Le Pen confronted by Muslim women in hijabs during fiery campaign stop

Marine Le Pen is confronted by hijab-wearing Muslim women on the French campaign trail and tells them she wants to ban head coverings because they are ‘imposed by radical Islam’

  • National Rally candidate for president tussled with two different women in hijabs
  • Le Pen said veils are ‘imposed by people who have a radical view of Islam’
  • But a veil-wearing woman hit back: ‘For me it is a sign of being a grandmother’ 
  • Le Pen wants to ban headscarves in public – and fine those caught wearing them 
  • Surprise visit to food market in Pertuis, Provence saw angry clashes and support
  • Polls have tightened as President Macron faces tough test in April 24 final runoff

Marine Le Pen was confronted by two women in hijabs during a fiery visit to a food market in the south of France today.

An elderly Muslim woman in a white veil called Le Pen over and asked her: ‘What is the headscarf doing in politics?’

The National Rally candidate for president hit back: ‘You know full well that women who don’t wear the headscarf are left aside, they are isolated, they are judged because the don’t wear the headscarf.

‘In France, I don’t want any women to be judged…’

Le Pen (foreground) bickered with the hijab-wearing woman (to her right) before walking away

The elderly woman accosted Le Pen, asking: ‘What is the headscarf doing in politics?’

Not satisfied with Le Pen’s answer, the woman said: ‘No. For me it is a sign of being a grandmother.’

The pair continually interrupted each other before Le Pen smiled and walked away.

Soon later a 70-year-old woman of Algerian origin challenged Le Pen. She asked the presidential candidate why she supports banning the veil.

Le Pen replied: ‘The headscarf is a uniform imposed over time by people who have a radical vision of Islam.’

The runner-up in the first round of the French presidential election said she would fine any woman seen wearing a headscarf in public.

She told RTL radio last week: ‘People will be given a fine in the same way that it is illegal to not wear your seat belt. It seems to me that the police are very much able to enforce this measure.’ 

A 70-year-old woman of Algerian origin (right) urged Le Pen (left) to take the veil out of politics

Le Pen did not appear to expect multiple confrontations with Muslim women on the same day

Le Pen has tried to tone down her anti-immigration rhetoric during this year’s campaign in an attempt to move toward the centre. 

Meanwhile President Macron has sought to avoid the issue of veils, stating: ‘For me personally, the question of the headscarf is not an obsession.’

He previously courted controversy by supporting legislation in 2020 which argued the hijab is a symbol of ‘Islamic counter-society’ and ‘divides men and women’. 

Crowds gathered to see the National Rally candidate’s surprise appearance in Pertuis, Provence, with some shouting anti-fascist slogans and others singing the Marseillaise.

Le Pen has been steadily closing the gap on Macron in French presidential election polls

Emmanuel Macron 

Cost of living: Remove all tax on inheritance valued less than €150,000, abolish TV licence fee

Immigration: Reform the asylum system to make it more efficient, long-stay permit is only given to people who pass a French language exam and are professionally successful

Europe: Strengthen the EU and its armies, increase the continent’s energy autonomy, fill the gap left by Angela Merkel as de facto EU leader

Pensions: Raise the pension age from 62 to 65 to keep the pension system afloat. Minimum pensions would be raised to €1,100 a month

Foreign policy: Took a leading role in negotiations with Vladimir Putin   

Marine Le Pen 

Cost of living: Lower VAT on fuel and energy from 20% to 5.5%. Income tax for under-30s scrapped as well as TV licence fee. Highways renationalised 

Immigration: Ban Muslim veil from public spaces, hold referendum on immigration to prioritise natives for jobs, housing and healthcare

Europe: Dropped previous vow to leave EU and euro, but wants to cut EU budget contributions. Wants French law to take primacy over EU law

Pensions: Drop pension age to 60 for those who started work before 20

Foreign policy: Condemned Russia but wants to maintain an alliance on ‘certain substantive issues’. Pull out of NATO’s integrated command structure

Scuffles got ugly when a young anti-fascist woman tussled with two male Le Pen supporters, prompting one to ward her off with a small step ladder.

The far-right candidate is closing the gap with Macron ahead of the second round of the country’s presidential election, according to a poll published earlier this week.

The OpinionWay-Kea Partners poll released by Les Echos and Radio Classique on Tuesday showed Le Pen narrowing the gap by one point as voter turnout continued to fall, although Macron would still win the run-off with 54 per cent of the vote.

The poll’s turnout estimate further declined by 1 per cent to 70 per cent, down from 74.56 per cent in 2017. This was already the lowest since 1969. 

Le Pen secured a run-off against the president in the French elections after she received 23.15 per cent of the vote in the first round on Sunday, just four points behind Macron and the best-ever showing by a far-right party.

The two will contest a second round runoff on April 24.

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