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French Parliamentarian Jean-Luc Melenchon has decried France’s islamophobia thinly veiled as secularism by the state. Melenchon, who is running for president in France’s 2022 presidential election, says that the competition for conservative votes has driven many French politicians to issue problematic statements against the country’s Muslim minority.
Melenchon decries this practice. He considers current Islamophobia in France as “disguised hatred,” with politicians and other public figures using “laicite,” France’s “assertive secularism,” as justification to stir up resentment against Muslims. He calls for respect for Muslim communities as a way to combat the fragmentation of French society.
For Melenchon, the word “islamophobia” is difficult to define in France’s political dialogue. “In this country there is hatred of Muslims disguised as secularism and I am opposed to this hatred,” he told french television channel BFMTV.
Melenchon faced controversy in 2018 after gossip press articles alleged he had an affair with his Algerian-French communications advisor Sophia Chikirou. He declared the US to be a “warmonger” after the assasination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in 2019. He is skeptical of German ambitions within the EU and considers France’s nuclear arsenal “outdated” but necessary.
He opposes messaging from government officials that target Islam in particular. The state is secular, not Atheist, Melechon stated. “The Republic does not recognize any religion but protects the freedom of conscience and worship.” For him, pointing the finger to any particular religion violates principles of freedom of religion on which the republic is founded.
Melenchon’s statements will provide a refreshing alternative to mainstream French politics. Islamophobia has become a common feature in France’s political scene, from the socialist party to the far-right National Rally party. After gruesome violence in Paris and Nice in recent weeks, politicians have done little to divert fear and anger away from the millions of innocent French Muslims.
The use of Islamophobia to garner votes has increased in France since the rise of Marine Le Pen’s openly anti-Islam party. Her party is competing with French President Emmanuel Macron’s center-right party for the top spot in national polls.
Morocco World News recently revealed the far-reaching use of Islamophobic laguage in French politics, as well as the threat it poses to Western democracy. This development has led many centrist politicians in France to make statements rife with Islamophobia in order to draw xenophobic voters to their platform.