With the second round of the French Presidential election to be fought between independent centrist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right French National Front, the fate of far more than the nation of France will be decided on May 7.
The election process will be closely followed by most of Europe and non-resident Indians (NRIs) and people of Indian-origin in the UK and neighbouring regions as well. The main reason for this is because of the extremes to which Le Pen has gone in promoting the French concept of Lacite, or secularism.
She has campaigned vigorously for promoting the ban on religious symbols in public, and her recent interview with Anderson Cooper highlighted her disdain for minorities and their culture, particularly Sikhs and Muslims.
When Anderson Cooper asked Le Pen if Sikhs should be allowed to wear turbans, she responded, “No, not in public.”
“We don’t have a lot of Sikhs in France. We’ve got some. But we don’t really hear much from them or about them. Which is good news.” Le Pen reiterated her stance against the headscarf some Muslim women wear as part of their religious practice.
“I’m opposed to wearing headscarves in public places. That’s not France,” she said in the interview. “There’s something I just don’t understand: The people who come to France, why would they want to change France, to live in France the same way they lived back home?”
The only good news for the minorities of France is that Emmanuel Macron beat Le Pen 24.01% to 21.3% in the first round of the French Presidential elections. With Le Pen wanting France to leave the EU, and Macron wanting even closer cooperation between the bloc's 28 member states, the projected outcome on Sunday means the presidential runoff would have undertones of a referendum on France's EU membership.