Islamophobia rises in France as presidential election nears

The question of Islam has long been a thorn in the French establishment’s side. With France on the cusp of presidential elections, far-right views have permeated mainstream public discourse on the Muslim community, immigration, and security.

For Anasse Kazib, the country’s series of measures and laws in recent decades have sought to curtail the Muslim way of life under the guise of fighting “terrorism” and “Islamism”.

The 35-year-old Marxist railway worker and son of Moroccan immigrants ran as a far-left candidate for the first round of French presidential elections on April 10. But he fell short of gathering the required 500 sponsorships from elected officials to appear on the ballot, and said the reaction to his candidacy by the establishment was based on fear and hostility.

“When I was running for the election, the traces of Islamophobia and reactionary politics were there,” he said. “There were posters of my face in Paris, with the words ‘0% French, 100% Islamist’ written on it. When you’re a political activist you don’t have the right to be Muslim, or even Arab.”

In contrast to the other candidates, Kazib was not given airtime by the mainstream media to campaign, which he said was evidence that his political message was disturbing the system.

“I think they got scared of us, of what we represent, of the radical ideas we carry – and prevented my candidacy from existing,” he said. Kazib said he was running on behalf of the youth, working-class areas, and people who do not feel represented in this election.

“It goes beyond the airtime issue; they denied our existence,” he continued. “When your name is something like ‘Anasse Kazib’, it’s even worse. There are Islamophobic and xenophobic bias at stake.”

While he is proud to be a descendant of immigrants, and to be a worker and hail from a working-class area, he did not mince his words when asked where Muslims fit in French society.

“The French identity does not include the Muslim community,” he said. “They never respected us as French people. They want to decide how French we are.”

Stigmatisation of Muslim community

According to Julien Talpin, a researcher in political science at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), President Emmanuel Macron’s first term has been “gloomy” for French Muslims – with the adoption of the separatism law in the summer of 2021 particularly significant…Read more>>


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