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Islamophobic Sarkozy losing at Polls
French President Nicolas Sarkozy faces an uphill struggle in the second round of the presidential election, after coming second in Sunday’s first vote.
He won 27.1% of the vote, while his Socialist rival Francois Hollande took 28.6%, the first time a sitting president has lost in the first round.
The two men will face each other in a second round of voting on 6 May.
Third-place Marine Le Pen took the largest share of the vote her far-right National Front has ever won, with 18%.
Analysts suggest Sarkozy, leader of the ruling centre-right UMP, will now need to woo the far-right voters who backed Ms Le Pen if he is to hold on to the presidency. But Hollande remains the front runner.
There are approximately 6 million Muslims in France, the largest Muslim population in Europe. After Sarkozy strongly came in the open against Muslims during the Presidential elections, they decided to mobilise against him.
“French Muslims can’t stand it anymore. They are fed up with these debates about national identity, halal meat, the veil or fundamentalism all over the place,” Francoise Lorcerie, a sociologist with the Institute of Studies on the Arab and Muslim World near Marseille, told The Washington Times.
During campaigns Presidents Nocolas Sarkozy ignored issues facing poor Muslim migrants living in shanty areas and instead focused on anti-immigrant and anti-Islam rhetoric.
“The terms Islam, immigration and fundamentalism are being used interchangeably, without care, with people being targeted, denigrated and used for votes.” Said Francoise Lorcerie.
France’s strong Muslim community came under scrutiny over the past few months after Islam and immigration became a main theme in the electoral rallies of presidential candidates in the April-May election.
Trying to win far right votes, Sarkozy’s government has toughened its message on immigration and in January it trumpeted the deportation of a record number of illegal migrants in 2011.
Anti-Muslim rhetoric consolidated in France after a gunman of Algerian origin killed seven people, including three Muslim soldiers and three Jewish children in Toulouse last month.
Muslim leaders have distanced themselves from the killing, saying the murders run counter to the Islamic teachings.
Sarkozy, of the conservative Union for a Popular Movement (UMP) party, called for tightening immigration because there are “too many foreigners” in France.
Marine Le Pen, the presidential candidate of the far-right National Front party, talked about “green fascism” and wondered “how many Mohammed Merahs are arriving on boats and planes each day, filling France with immigrants.”
The speeches infuriated French Muslims and reignited the debate over origins and identity.
“Merah was born in France. He did not come by boat or plane, but everyone talks about his origins, despite his being French,” said Mohamed Mechmache, president of AC Le Feu, a community association working to improve conditions in the banlieues, France’s poor immigrant suburbs.
Source : (BBC/ Washington Times & Cii news.)
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