Le Pen: France has choice between fundamental Islam and independence

Marine Le Pen says France’s next presidential election will be a choice between a “multi-cultural society… where fundamental Islam is progressing” and an “independent nation, with people able to control their own destiny”.

In an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr, Le Pen said on Sunday that Donald Trump’s US election victory heralds the “building of a new world,” and that recent elections and referendums were victories “against the unfettered globalisation that has been imposed on us… and which today has clearly shown its limits,” she claimed.

Le Pen described the Republican’s win as a “victory of the people against the elite” and said she hoped a similar outcome could be achieved in French presidential elections in May.

“Clearly, Donald Trump’s victory is an additional stone in the building of a new world, destined to replace the old one,” she said.

Trump “made possible what had previously been presented as impossible,” she said, predicting that the “global revolution” that resulted in his election, as well as in the vote for Brexit, will also see her elected as president.

“So if I can draw a parallel with France then yes I wish that in France also the people up-end the table, the table around which the elites are dividing up what should go to the French people.

Hailing the rise of “patriotic movements” in Europe, Le Pen drew parallels between the US vote, Britain’s 23 June decision to leave the European Union, and France’s rejection of the European constitution in 2005.

 

She told Marr the rise of nationalism in the West meant Europe needed to look after its own citizens and stop “taking in the poverty of the world”.

“We are not going to welcome any more people. Stop, we are full up.”

When asked if Muslims could be good French citizens, she said: “I don’t judge people based on their religion. But I judge them based on how they respect the French constitution.

“If some people refuse to comply with French law or our codes, our values, our lifestyles, then we will act.”

She also said there was no reason for Europe to be scared of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“We’d better, if we want a powerful Europe, negotiate with Russia, and have cooperation agreements with Russia, commercial agreements with Russia,” she said, adding that it was the EU that was destabilising Europe, not Russia.

“The model that is defended by Vladimir Putin which is one of reason, protectionism, looking after the interests of his own country, defending its identity, is one that I like.”

 

Dutch anti-Islam party presents political program

The Party for Freedom (PVV), under the political leadership of Geert Wilders, the Netherlands’ most well-known anti-Islam politician, has presented a one-page political program for the upcoming elections. It is highly unusual for Dutch parties to present their particular programs in such a short and limited format. It seems the program has established somewhat of a record in this regard.

The PVV program contains controversial, but not new, political goals, including the closing of all mosques and Islamic schools, forbidding the Quran and headscarves, closing all refugees centers and canceling all the residence permits given to refugees. It also re-states the wish of the PVV for the Netherlands to become “independent again”, meaning to “get out if the EU”.

The program rejects the government policies of the Rutte II cabinet on all fronts and aims to undo some of the large retrenchments as well as to lower several taxes. The finances to take these measures the PVV want to cover by completely eliminating public broadcasting services and the funding for developmental aid, wind mills, art, innovation, and the like, stating that “in stead of financing the whole world and the people we don’t want to have here, will spend the money on the common Dutch people”.

Regional elections in Germany deliver further gains to the AfD, weakening Merkel

A year of electoral defeats

Angela Merkel’s centre-right CDU party has suffered a set of electoral setbacks in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Berlin; losses widely blamed by her detractors on her stance in the ongoing migration crisis in Europe. These renewed drubbings at the ballot box come after crushing defeats in elections in Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg – the CDU’s former stronghold – earlier this year.

In Merkel’s home region of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, the CDU was pushed into third place, behind the Social Democrats and the surging right-wing populist AfD. Since re-unification, the north-eastern state has gone through more than two decades of de-industrialisation and population decline, although economic and demographic indicators have stabilised during recent years. In spite of the state’s extremely low proportion of immigrants and Muslims, the twin fears of migration and Islamisation dominated large parts of the electoral campaign. ((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/wahl-mecklenburg-vorpommern-afd-zweitstaerkste-kraft-spd-gewinnt-a-1110844.html ))

The subsequent Berlin state elections did not deliver a better result for Merkel’s party, with the CDU obtaining its lowest-ever vote share in a Berlin ballot. Neither did the AfD’s showing as strong as in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Nevertheless, Merkel’s inner-party rivals have been quick to lay the blame for the renewed debacle at her feet. ((http://www.spiegel.de/politik/deutschland/berlin-wahl-spd-bleibt-staerkste-kraft-afd-zweistellig-a-1112823.html ))

Merkel changing course ahead of federal elections

While Merkel had for a long time stood by her initial mantra ‘Wir schaffen das’ (‘We can do it’) when talking about the evolving migration challenge, recent months had already brought a gradual shift in her position; perhaps most notably in the form of the EU-Turkey migration deal which she helped broker, as well as through harsher immigration legislation at home. In the aftermath of this string of electoral losses, Merkel has now explicitly abandoned her trademark phrase, commenting that ‘Wir schaffen das’ had become an “empty formula” that has only served to unnecessarily “provoke” many listeners; a provocation that had never been her intention – or so Merkel asserted in a press conference. (( http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/merkel-1377.html ))

One year ahead of Germany’s federal elections, Merkel’s national approval ratings have dropped to the lowest level in five years, and the majority of voters do not want her to run again for office. Yet at the same time, Merkel’s rivals within her own party as well as the presumptive Social Democratic contender for the Chancellery, Sigmar Gabriel, remain equally unpopular, so that so far no clear challenger has emerged.  ((https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/deutschlandtrend-617.html ))

 

Sarkozy wants special jails, courts for terrorism suspects

Paris was once again put on high alert last Sunday after a car loaded with gas cylinders was found near Notre Dame cathedral in an incident that could have been an attack on a Paris railway station.

Security is a key topic in the presidential elections in 2017, as more than 230 people have been killed in militant Islamist attacks on French soil since January 2015.

Sarkozy’s comments come after French President Francois Hollande, a Socialist, took a swipe at his opponents this week, saying their hardline reactions to a wave of militant attacks demonstrated an intent to destroy France’s social model.

Sarkozy took an even tougher approach on Sunday by proposing to systematically place French citizens, suspected of having militant links, in special detention facilities in an interview with Le Journal du Dimanche (JDD) 

“Every Frenchman suspected of being linked to terrorism, because he regularly consults a jihadist website, or his behavior shows signs of radicalization or because is in close contact with radicalized people, must by preventively placed in a detention center,” Sarkozy said in the interview.

 

Sarkozy, who announced last month his candidacy for the April 2017 presidential election, has said there is no place for “legal niceties” in the fight against terrorism.

According to French Institute for Public Opinion, Ifop, voters turned out to have most confidence in former Prime Minister Alain Juppe to guarantee security, with Sarkozy in second place, Prime Minister Manuel Valls in third, and Hollande a distant 8th.

French Justice Minister Jean-Jacques Urvoas said in a separate interview with the French newspaper on Sunday he planned to make proposals next week to Valls to ease prison overcrowding.

“I do not advocate creation of facilities dedicated to terrorists…The real challenge is to prepare the release of those who are sentenced for a short or medium term,” Urvoas said.

Politics and Prejudice: Countering Islamophobia in the 2016 Presidential Race

If the last two elections are any indication, candidates in the 2016 presidential race may be tempted to engage in Muslim-bashing – playing off national security anxieties and fostering racial and religious animus – to win the vote. But anti-Muslim bigotry comes at a high cost to American Muslims, to America’s international stature, and increasingly, to the political careers of those who fuel it.
It was not long ago that American Muslim children watched leaders “accuse” President Obama of being a Muslim, as if there is something inherently wrong with the world’s second largest religion or its 1.5 billion adherents.
Since then, a number of U.S. elected officials continue to contribute to the prevailing climate of intolerance and discrimination confronting American Muslims.

Germany’s Donald Trump moment: The AfD ahead of crucial state elections

February 5, 2016

Frauke Petry, chairwoman of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) party opined last week that due to the continued influx of immigrants police ought to use firearms in order to defend the German border. In an interview with the local newspaper Mannheimer Morgen, Petry asserted that “[n]o policeman wants to shoot at a refugee. I don’t want to either. But part of an ultima ratio is the use of armed force.” The party’s vice-chairwoman Beatrix von Storch reaffirmed this statement in a somewhat more blunt fashion on her Facebook page: “Whoever does not accept the STOP [sign] at our borders is an attacker. And we need to defend ourselves against attacks”. Questioned by a commenter whether she would use weapons to prevent women and children from crossing the border, von Storch only replied with a curt “yes”.

After the leading AfD women boldly asserted that their suggestions were covered by existing law, they subsequently issues retractions of their statements in the face of massive public backlash. Yet while criticism of Petry’s and von Storch’s statements was fierce, arguably it did little to harm the AfD’s current political momentum. As communication scientist Frank Brettschneider contended in an interview with the news outlet Tagesschau, the AfD draws its strength from obtaining media attention through conscious provocation. Brettschneider drew an explicit parallel to Donald Trump: outrageous statements lead to condemnation on the part of the societal mainstream, yet they buttress popularity in that sector of the population that is attracted to this discourse.

So far, the AfD’s calculation appears to be working: Following Petry’s and von Storch’s statements, the AfD reached a new high of 12 per cent in the national polls. At the centre of attention are the three states of Baden-Württemberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Saxony-Anhalt where new state parliaments and prime ministers will be elected in mid-March. Here, attempts to exclude the AfD from the televised debates ahead of the elections have led to the cancellation of these debates and seemingly only strengthened the AfD’s position.

Links:

Frauke Petry’s original statement: http://www.morgenweb.de/sie-konnen-es-nicht-lassen-1.2620328 (in German)

Beatrix von Storch’s comments: http://www.faz.net/aktuell/politik/fluechtlingskrise/beatrix-von-storch-afd-vizechefin-will-polizei-sogar-auf-kinder-schiessen-lassen-14044186.html (in German)

Interview with Frank Brettschneider: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/interview-brettschneider-afd-101.html (in German)

AfD at a new all-time high in national polls: http://www.tagesschau.de/inland/deutschlandtrend/index.html (in German)

Regional elections: National Front fails to win any regions

The National Front (FN) on Sunday night failed to win a single region, after leading in six of 13 French regions in the first round of regional elections one week earlier.

There will be no further nationwide elections in France until the May 2017 presidential contest. Sunday’s poll was seen as a rehearsal for 2017.

The FN claims to be France’s “first party” and often leads in the first round, as it did on December 6th, with 27.8 per cent of the vote. But unlike the ruling socialist party (PS) and Nicolas Sarkozy’s conservative “Les Républicains” (LR), the FN has no allies or reserve voters to bolster its score in the run-off.

Exit polls showed the FN’s leader, Marine Le Pen, won 42 per cent of the vote in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, compared to 58 per cent for the LR candidate Xavier Bertrand. Le Pen thanked her voters “for rejecting intimidation, infantilisation and manipulation” by the socialist government.

Prime minister Manuel Valls had warned of a risk of “civil war” if the FN won the elections. He called on socialists to vote for LR candidates in the three regions where the FN looked likely to win, and where LR was ahead of the PS in the first round. Sarkozy refused to reciprocate, reiterating his policy of “neither nor” – neither FN nor PS.

With left-wing support, the LR appears to have won seven of 13 regions, while the PS won six. The socialists held 21 of 22 regions under the previous system.

Ms Le Pen said the “worryingly irresponsible” rhetoric of Valls and the socialist speaker of the National Assembly Claude Bartolone showed “the dangerous drift of a dying regime,” that a “campaign of calumny and defamation” was “decided in the golden palaces of the republic and carried out in a servile way by those who live off the system”.

She noted that the FN’s score in the second round of regional elections rose from 9.17 per cent in 2010 to 30 percent on Sunday, “confirming as EU and departmental elections showed the inexorable rise of the FN, election after election”.

Marion Maréchal Le Pen lost the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region to the LR candidate, Christian Estrosi, a close ally of Mr Sarkozy, by 45 to 55 per cent.

In Alsace-Champagne-Ardennes-Lorraine, Marine Le Pen’s right-hand man, Florian Philippot lost with 36.4 per cent of the vote to 48.8 per cent for the LR candidate Philippe Richert. Jean-Pierre Masseret, the socialist candidate who defied Valls’s order to withdraw from the race, won only 15.2 per cent.

Valls said voters “responded to the very clear, very courageous appeal of the left to block the path of the extreme right, which won no region”. The results were a lesson to politicians “to end little political games, invective, sectarianism”, he said. Le Pen said the results proved “the secret ties between those who pretend to oppose each other but in reality share power without ever solving your problems”.

Opinion: Attack Will Empower Europe’s Far Right

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By Mabel Berezin

Responding to the massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, President Barack Obama and other public figures such as John Kerry, author Salman Rushdie — even the far-right nationalist French politician Marine Le Pen — have defended the right to freedom of expression as a core democratic value. Huge demonstrations in solidarity with the victims are occurring throughout France and in many European capitals.

The slogan “Je suis Charlie Hebdo” is circulating widely in social media. Twitter is inundated with tweets about the political power of satire. Pictures of demonstrators holding pens in the air abound.

The political mood in Europe has been growing dark. Volatility is becoming more and more constant. In December, the Swedish government went into a crisis triggered by the right nationalist Sweden Democrats, which are vehemently opposed to more immigration and whose leader recently proclaimed that Jews, Kurds and Sami were not Swedish unless they assimilated. A last-minute compromise among the major parties saved the day in Sweden, but the Sweden Democrats — whose electoral share went from 6% in 2010 to 13% in 2014 — are not leaving the scene.

In Greece, where the openly neo-Nazi party Golden Dawn has been in the parliament since 2012, the pro-Europe government came apart and the Prime Ministerhas called snap elections for January 25. In Germany, a group called Pegida staged large demonstrations in Dresden against the “Islamification of Europe.” Prime Minister Angela Merkel in her New Year’s address told the group to stop its demonstrations, but Pegida staged another one in Dresden anyway.
And now France.

Le Pen’s goal since she became head of the National Front in 2011 has been to make it a mainstream party. In 2014, it moved from one electoral breakthrough to another. In March it won mayoral races in four French municipalities, including the traditionally socialist city of Hénin-Beaumont. In May, it came in first place in the European parliamentary elections — which saw an uptick in the fortunes of right nationalist parties throughout Europe.

Le Pen has consistently polled well as a contender in the 2017 French presidential elections. Even before the Charlie Hebdo attack, it was more than likely that she would make it to the second round in 2017. In an October public opinion poll, she outpolled French President François Hollande by 15 percentage points. Her closest rival was former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and she outpolled even him.
The international media often present her as a single-issue candidate around xenophobia and immigration, but Le Pen’s and the Front’s positions have expanded considerably. Her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, the former head of the party, began a strong push against further European integration and French involvement in the Economic and Monetary Union. Unemployment outpaces immigration as the leading problem in public opinion polls.

But politicians take opportunities where they see them, and voters tend to remember dramatic events as well as everyday grievances. Nothing could be more dramatic than the public killings of 12 persons in the center of Paris.

They may well become a tipping point — Europe’s 21st-century version of a Sarajevo moment. Europe has been convulsing for the last few years. The sovereign debt crisis, the high youth unemployment rates, the failure to come up with a just and reasonable refugee policy — all these issues may crystalize around of the event in Paris whether they are directly related or not.

The nationalist right has been gaining strength all over Europe on just these issues. The Charlie Hebdo massacre will not only help Marine Le Pen but will be a boon to nationalist parties throughout Europe. From north to south, ordinary European citizens are already voting for parties that they had shunned in the past. If this trend continues, there will be no guns of August — just the silent assault of one nationalist electoral success after another.

CAIR Exit Poll Shows High Turnout for Muslim Voters in Midterm Elections

(*WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/5/14) — The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, today released the results of a midterm election exit poll in states with high concentrations of American Muslim voters that shows an up to 76 percent turnout (Virginia) of those voters and indicating that overall, more than 70 percent of those voters supported Democratic candidates.

CAIR’s poll also indicated a modest positive shift in Muslim voter support for Republican candidates, reflecting that party’s national gains.

“Muslim voters were energized and engaged, turning out at almost twice the average of all American voters in previous midterm elections,” said CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw.

Compared to the 2012 elections, in which Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney received a single digit percentage of the Muslim vote, close to 20 or more percent (23 percent for Rick Scott in Florida) of Muslims elected Republican candidates for governor in yesterday’s elections.

Republican gains are attributed to winning over traditionally independent or undecided Muslim voters.

The CAIR exit poll of more than 3,000 registered Muslim voters in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and Virginia was conducted using an independent automated call survey provider and asked two questions:

 * “Did you vote in today’s election?”
 * “Which candidate did you vote for (governor or senator)?”

*Detailed Survey Results:*

*California*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 72%
No 28%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Jerry Brown (D) 76%
Neel Kashkari (R) 22%
Luis Rodriguez (G) 1%
Cindy Sheehan (P&F) 1%

*Florida*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 74%
No 26%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Charlie Crist (D) 71%
Rick Scott (R) 23%
Farid Khavari (I) 2%
Adrian Wyllie (L) 1%
Glenn Burkett (I) 1%
Other 2%

*Illinois*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 74%
No 26%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Pat Quinn (D) 77%
Bruce Rauner (R) 20%
Chad Grimm (L) 2%
Other 1%

*New York*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 59%
No 41%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Andrew Cuomo (D) 72%
Rob Astorino (R) 19%
Howie Hawkins (G) 5%
Other 4%

*Texas*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 68%
No 32%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Wendy Davis (D) 76%
Greg Abbott (R) 20%
Debra Medina (I) 2%
Brandon Parmer (G) 1%
Kathie Glass (L) 1%
Other 1%

*Virginia*

Question: Did you vote in today’s election?

Yes 76%
No 24%

Question: Which candidate did you vote for?

Mark Warner (D) 79%
Ed Gillespie (R) 17%
Robert Sarvis (L) 3%
Other 2%

These results support the findings of a pre-election CAIR survey  indicating that 69 percent of registered Muslim voters would go to the polls on November 4 and that more than half would vote for Democratic Party candidates.

Domestic issues like the economy and health care topped the Muslim voters’ list of priority concerns in the election. Growing Islamophobia in America ranked as the third most important issue for Muslim voters.

For additional American Muslim election analysis, contact: CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw, 202-999-8292, rmccaw@cair.com.

Over the weekend, CAIR also mobilized Muslim voters through a get-out-the-vote (GOTV) call campaign contacting 102,452 Muslim households, with 54,914 live answers and 47,538 messages left on answering machines. The calls were recorded by regional Muslim leaders in California, New York, Illinois, Florida, Texas, and Virginia.

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.

Somali candidate eyes milestone in US race

August 3, 2014

MINNEAPOLIS — In a neighborhood dubbed “Little Mogadishu,” Mohamud Noor can’t walk more than a block without being stopped by someone who wants to shake his hand.

Juggling two cell phones and a stack of campaign fliers, he chats them up on his bid for a seat in Minnesota’s House of Representatives. They already know. He’s one of theirs.

“You’re going to succeed, keep on going,” Noor said, translating the encouraging words of an elderly Somali woman.

Noor, 36, has been door-knocking, phone-banking and fundraising in a race that could make him the first Somali-born state lawmaker in the U.S. With the backing of many in the city’s growing Somali-American population, Noor is pressing the longtime incumbent Democrat in a hotly contested primary.

Minnesota has become home to an estimated 30,000 Somalis who began fleeing civil war in their homeland a generation ago, drawn here by welcoming churches and social services. Many have settled in Minneapolis in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, where ethnic restaurants, markets and shops huddle in the shadow of massive high-rise apartment buildings.

So established is the community that members are rising in politics, with Somali-Americans capturing a Minneapolis school board seat in 2010 and a Minneapolis City Council seat last year. A win by Noor in November could add another milestone. Somali-American leaders said they know of no other state legislators.

Noor narrowly lost a race for state Senate in 2011. But he has raised about twice as much money for this campaign and hopes that running in the smaller House district, where about a fourth of the residents are foreign-born, could make a difference.

Noor’s asset is Somalia. He fled the violence in his home country before his teen years. He and his family escaped to Kenya’s refugee camps, “living in tents, eating what we got,” he said. In 1999, the nine Noors moved together to Minnesota.

Today, he works at a local center that helps immigrants learn English and find work. He and his wife have four children.