Emmanuel Macron's party pulls support from Muslim who wore headscarf

‘Candidates represent all the French, not just one community’: Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche party pulls support from female candidate after she wore a Muslim headscarf in her election poster

  • Sara Zemmahi was pictured with colleagues on election posters in Montpellier
  • Image was tweeted by an official from Marine Le Pen’s National Rally Party     
  • Muslim headscarves are not forbidden in public place or on campaign posters 

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has withdrawn its backing for a Muslim candidate because she was pictured in a poster with her head covered.

Sara Zemmahi, who is an engineer, 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.’ 

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party has withdrawn its backing for a Muslim candidate because she was pictured in a poster with her head covered. Sara Zemmahi (far left) 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

Mahfoud Benali, the lead candidate on the list who one of two men pictured on the poster with Ms Zemmahi, said that he was ‘frankly pained by the decision’.

Ms Zemmahi was on a work trip and not immediately available to comment, Mr Benali said. 

The poster for the June 20 and 27 local elections shows Mr Benali, another man and two female candidates, including Ms Zemmahi, under the sign ‘Different But United For You.’ 

 

On the bottom, it notes the candidates stand for the ‘presidential majority.’

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.

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. Pictured: Mr Macron on Wednesday

A tweet from Le Pen’s deputy, Jordan Bardella, brought the poster into the public eye.

He said above the image: ‘That’s the fight against separatism’, a reference to Mr Macron’s effort to tackle Islamic extremists.

In a later tweet, Bardella said the Muslim headscarf is ‘contrary to all our values’ and said his National Rally party ‘will forbid it in public.’ 

He was clearly making a reference to an eventual victory of Le Pen in next year´s presidential race.  

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