Monday, December 20, 2010

France To Target Muslim Takeover of Streets For Public Prayer

Many of you have seen the widely circulated videos of certain streets in Paris and elsewhere in France becoming de facto no go zones for non-Muslims as Muslim worshipers turn them into what amounts to mosques by taking them over during prayer times.

There have been widespread public complaints, but thus far police have not intervened because they fear sparking civil unrest.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy plans to outlaw this practice, saying that it undermines the French secular tradition separating state and religion.

Sarkozy's announcement comes after a major furor in France over remarks made by by Marine Le Pen of the National Front Party, who compared the situation to the wartime occupation of France.

"For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it's about occupation, then we could also talk about (that), because that is occupation of territory," she said at a political rally in Lyons.

"There are, of course, no tanks, there are no soldiers but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents," she said.

Her remarks sparked outrage among France's Left and among Muslims who accused her of racism, but met with wide approval elsewhere.

Marine Le Pen, who is expected to take over leadership of the National Front from her father, the elderly Jean-Marie Le Pen, has become an increasingly popular figure in France as she continues to put out a message that resonated with much of the French public; that France has been betrayed by its elites and inundated with unassimilated Muslims hostile to traditional French values.

According to one poll, Marine Le Pen's approval rating has risen to 33 per cent, only three points behind President Sarkozy's.

Sarkozy himself has enacted policies to make up political ground in this area...banning the burka in public, cracking down on 'immigrant' ( read 'Muslim') crime in the banlieus and deporting both Muslims and Roma found to be residing illegally in France.

If Le Pen continues to gain political ground, it's quite possible we could see a coalition government with Sarkozy's ruling Union for a Popular Movement (UMP)that contains the National Front or even a merging of the two parties.

France, like most parliamentary democracies has multiple parties but for their presidential elections, the French hold a general election and then a run off of the two candidates with the highest popular vote.

Ironically, it was Marine Le Pen's father who finished a surprise second to Jaques Chirac in the elections of 2002, eliminating Lionel Jospin, the Socialist candidate.

The next election in 2012 could see an interesting battle between an alliance of the Right and an alliance of the Red and Black - the Socialists and Muslims.

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