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Marine Le Pen ‘stunned’ as Macron’s interior minister accuses her of being ‘too soft’ on Islam

In a surprising row between Macron’s interior minister Gérald Darmanin and Marine Le Pen, who is branded as “far right,” Darmanin said Le Pen’s “efforts to rebrand the National Rally party had led to a watering down of her hardline position that would ‘disappoint’ her base.” Le Pen was left “defending the rights of Muslims to practice and confirmed she ‘does not intend to attack Islam, which is a religion like any other.’”

The dispute between Le Pen and Darmanin came during a debate. Darmanin said: “In her attempts to rehabilitate [her party], Ms Le Pen has gone a bit soft… you need to take some vitamins, you’re not tough enough here.”

Macron’s government has stepped up its crackdown on “Islamist separatism” since the beheading of teacher Samuel Paty in October, including surveillance and closure of hardline mosques. He has also been accelerating the French battle against jihadists in the Sahel region of Africa, citing foreseeable problems for the EU should jihadists continue their rampage and create a humanitarian disaster in the region.

Le Pen’s assertion that Islam is “a religion like any other” is bizarre coming from a politician who was thought to understand what the jihad was all about. And in fact, Islam is has numerous singular features: one cannot find any passages in Christianity advocating the murder or subjugation of infidels, the murder of apostates, or the beating of disobedient women, and the list goes on. Nor are there any states except Islamic states that sanction human rights abuses in the name of religion.

Le Pen has been under the microscope and major pressure. She’s on trial for charges that she broke hate speech laws by tweeting pictures of Islamic State atrocities. She was also ordered to undergo psychiatric evaluation for tweeting the images. Despite attacks on her, Le Pen was recently reported to be soaring in the polls due to her tough stand on Islamization. But her comments in defense of Islam, whether due to pressure or political posturing, or both, may cause her to lose ground.

“French far-right leader Marine Le Pen accused of being ‘too soft’ on Islam in election debate,” by Jack Elsom, Daily Mail, February 13, 2021:

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen looked bewildered during a debate this week as she was accused by a Macron ally of being ‘too soft’ on Islam.

Interior minister Gérald Darmanin said her efforts to rebrand the National Rally party had led to a watering down of her hardline position that would ‘disappoint’ her base.

Le Pen responded by defending the rights of Muslims to practice and confirmed she ‘does not intend to attack Islam, which is a religion like any other’.

That the far-right candidate was facing accusations of being too liberal left even Le Pen visibly stunned.

The debate broadcast on French TV saw the opening salvos fired in a hotly contested election to be fought next year.

Le Pen and incumbent President Macron are expected to face off in the final round of voting and have been trading the lead in polls, which put them miles ahead of their nearest rivals.

Tackling extremism is seen as a touchstone issue in the election and comes as ministers plan tougher measures over religious associations and homeschooling.

During Thursday’s debate, Darmanin said: In her attempts to rehabilitate [her party], Ms Le Pen has gone a bit soft… you need to take some vitamins, you’re not tough enough here.’

He added: ‘If I understand you right, you’re prepared to not even legislate on religion, and you say that Islam is not even a problem.

‘You’ve gone quite far, it’s going to disappoint quite a lot of your voters I imagine.

Le Pen responded: Yes I can confirm that I don’t intend to attack Islam, which is a religion like any other.

‘And, because I am strongly attached to our French values, I want to conserve total freedom of religion. That’s my opinion.’

She hit out at the government’s plan to crack down on homeschooling – which ministers point to as a breeding ground for extremism – and instead pointed to her own proposals such as banning headscarfs for all in public and tighter migration controls. …

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