France’s african, muslim and jewish communities express concern ahead of election

PARIS, FRANCE (MAY 5, 2017)(REUTERS) – The imminent French elections is the hot topic on the streets of Paris. In streets filled with African hairdressers, nail saloons with Asian staff and restaurants with exotic food, it might look like the trendiest hairdo is the main issue, below the surface emotions are simmering and about France’s next president – with many in France’s mixed communities hoping centrist Emmanuel Macron will beat far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose speeches against immigration and in favour of an exit from the European Union attracted 21.4 percent of voters during the first round of France’s presidential election on April 27.

People on the buzzing streets say they despise Le Pen because of her stance against migrants.

“We want a president who will raise the economy of this country, a president who acts, a president who can stop the terrorism that scares French people and us migrants, too,” said Alpha Ngungu as people crowded around to listen. “Marine Le Pen thinks it’s enough to attack migrants if you want to manage the country well – but us migrants, we are working, we bring money in this country, we contribute to this country’s economy… Why always bring us down?”

“When she is being asked why she has a headache, she says: it’s the migrants. Why do your feet hurt ? It’s the migrants !” Oumbia Bilal said. “She doesn’t have any programme. I am not French but if I were French I couldn’t vote Marine Le Pen. Any French person who sat in front of the debate, a French person who wants good for his or her country can see that Marine Le Pen doesn’t have any argument.”

Leaders of the Muslim and Jewish communities called to vote for Macron in order to block Le Pen. In a communiqué on Friday, French Jewish central Consistory President Joel Mergui called on members of his community to vote for Macron in order to “fight the far-right that threatens our democracies,” saying to abstain would be a “serious mistake,”

Paris’ grand Mosque rector, Dalil Boubakeur, reiterated on Thursday its call on France’s Muslim community to vote wholeheartedly for Macron, praising his “republican and humanist message calling for national unity”.

Muslim believers attending Friday prayers and interviewed on Friday (May 5) said they would do so without hesitation.

“The National Front shouldn’t even exist in France, it shouldn’t exist,” Beny, a former taxi driver, said.

Latest polls from Odoxa and Harris Interactive both put Macron on Friday (May 5) as winning the second round with 62 percent versus 38 percent for Le Pen.