President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has withdrawn its backing for a Muslim candidate because she was pictured in a poster with her head covered. Macron has said there is no place for ostentatious displays of religious symbols in a secular society. Mahfoud Benali, the lead candidate on the list who is one of two men pictured on the poster with Ms Zemmahi, said that he was ‘frankly pained by the decision’.
Daily Mail (h/t Terry D) Sara Zemmahi was dragged into the latest argument about Muslim dress in France after her image was tweeted by Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party. She was seen dressed in a white heard scarf as she stood smiling with colleagues on posters and pamphlets in Montpellier, where she is standing in regional elections in June.
While France bans Muslim headscarves in classrooms, they aren’t forbidden in the public space or on campaign posters.
But Stanislas Guerini, the leader of Mr Macron’s La Republique en Marche party, told radio station RTL Tuesday that the party wouldn’t back Ms Zemmahi, one of four people in the poster. ‘We consider that ostentatious religious signs don’t have their place on posters, whatever the religion,’ Guerini said.
President Macron’s close ally Aurore Bergé, a leading En Marche MP for the Paris region, said: ‘When you are a candidate for election you represent all the French, not just a community or your religious opinions.’
The decision to pull support from Ms Zemmah, which drew criticism from some members of Macron’s own party, underscored the divisiveness of France’s long-standing debate on headscarves, and secularism.
In next year’s presidential vote, Mr Macron could find himself in a repeat of the 2017 race, facing off against far-right leader Marine Le Pen.