Upcoming French regional elections are marked by a particularly incendiary campaign poster that targets the so-called “Islamization” of France. Ahead of the first round of French regional elections, much of the talk on the airwaves is about the drubbing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party is expected to receive in the polls. But the far-right National Front party has also managed to cause debate – with a new campaign poster featuring the Algerian flag, a veiled woman, and half a dozen minarets shooting out of a map of France. The tagline – “No to Islamism” – apparently targets extreme manifestations of the Muslim religion.
In a recent campaign speech, the National Front’s 81-year-old leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, denounced mosques that were “growing like mushrooms” in France. Le Pen said the poster was not against Islam and Algeria but against Islamism – and the fact French youth of North African-origin do not appear to be patriotic. The Algerian government has protested against the campaign poster – as has a Swiss advertising agency, which claims the National Front plagiarized from its campaign for a minaret ban in Switzerland. Rights and anti-discrimination groups like SOS Racisme and the Representative Council of Black Associations have also expressed outrage.