France: the leader of Macron’s party slams the scarf of the Muslim candidate | News Emmanuel Macron

The image of LREM candidate Sara Zemmahi wearing a hijab has drawn the wrath of the far right and LREM itself.

The leader of French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party has threatened to withdraw support for one of her own candidates in the upcoming regional elections after being pictured wearing a headscarf on a campaign poster.

Stanislas Guerini, who helped found Macron’s centrist movement in 2016, was reacting to an online poster depicting Sara Zemmahi, who is running for office in the southern city of Montpellier.

Zemmahi, an engineer, is pictured smiling in a white headscarf with three colleagues from the Republic on the Move (LREM) party running in the June 20 and 27 elections.

The image was tweeted on Monday by number two in the far-right French National Rally (RN) party, Jordan Bardella, which in turn drew a reaction from Guerini.

“Wearing ostentatious religious symbols on a campaign document is not compatible with LREM’s values,” Guerini wrote on Monday evening.

“Either these candidates change their photo, or LREM withdraws its support.”

Government spokesman Gabriel Attal on Tuesday supported the ultimatum on France Inter radio, adding that “legally, nothing prevents someone who is running for an election from displaying a religious symbol, by occurrence a scarf ”.

He said it was a “political choice” to have candidates who do not manifest their religious beliefs.

Analysts say Macron has shifted to the right in recent months in an attempt to overtake the RN, led by Marine Le Pen, who is seen as his main rival in the 2022 presidential elections.

France has a strict form of secularism called “laicite”, which stems from more than a century of power struggles between the state and the Catholic Church.

“Ostentatious” religious symbols are also banned in schools, but many in France, especially on the right and right, would like to expand restrictions on expressions of religion in all public spaces.

The debate recently focused on whether mothers accompanying children on school trips should be able to wear the Muslim headscarf.

Zemmahi’s candidate in Montpellier defended her, saying she was active in local charities and should not be judged by her appearance.

“I see Sara’s abilities – I don’t see what she is wearing,” Mahfoud Benali, who is pictured with Zemmahi on the poster, told local France 3 television.

Local LREM MP Coralie Dubost also condemned Guerini’s ultimatum on Tuesday in an interview with Radio J.

“When you have a young woman engineer, who does hours of charitable work, who is involved in a party that has progressive values ​​- whether she is veiled or not, there is a place for her with us,” says- it.

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