'Sarkozy’s Islamist crackdown for campaign'

National Front candidate for French presidential election Le Pen accuses rival of "electoral agitation after the Merah affair."

By JOSEPH STRICH JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
April 12, 2012 02:31
3 minute read.
French National Front leader Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen France National Front 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Benoit Tessier)

 
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NANTERRE, France – Marine Le Pen, the National Front candidate for the French presidential election, accused rival President Nicolas Sarkozy of having sent “a simple message” when some Islamists were arrested on French territory, after French forces assaulted Mohamed Merah’s house last month.

Merah, an Algerian born in France who was killed after the 30-hour standoff outside his home, murdered seven people in three separate terror attacks last month, including a rabbi and three Jewish children.

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Le Pen was speaking at a press conference with foreign journalists in her campaign headquarters at Nanterre, west of Paris. She lamented to representatives of newspapers from around the world that “we no longer speak at all of the crisis, [but] of electoral fables.”

“We are climbing the same stairs as Greece, Portugal and Spain; it is just that we have not yet reached the same level... The domino effect is at our door... The Spanish and the French people will not accept to live the way the Greek people are living, to pay the financial market predators.”

Responding to a question from The Jerusalem Post, following the surprising absence of mentions in electoral debates of the shootings in the southern French town of Toulouse, Le Pen criticized Sarkozy, calling his crackdown on Islamists “merely electoral agitation after the Merah affair.”

“A few arrested Islamists and that is all... [Sarkozy] is not dealing with the real problem of fundamentalism, although he has been in charge of national security for the past 10 years.”

Before being elected president in May 2007, Sarkozy was interior minister, responsible for internal security matters and police. His credentials as “Mr. Security” were decisive in the preference of French voters for him over Segolene Royal, the Socialist candidate, who was considered more lax in her attitude to it.

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For Le Pen, Sarkozy, like his predecessors, “deliberately downplayed the threat from Islamists who want to see France as we know it disappear in favor of Shari’a.”

Going further, she accused her main rival for the voice of the right wing to have even “opened the door to the UOIF (militant Muslim organization in France) who called for the murder of Jews.”

“He provided the first steps to the ladder for the fundamentalists in France and internationally,” she said.

The extreme-right wing candidate also deplored the European intervention in Libya last year, at the initiative of France, which helped dethrone former leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“In Libya, we gave the power to jihadists who have established Shari’a law within a few hours,” she said.

“A convinced euroskeptic,” and “sworn enemy of the euro as a single currency,” Le Pen criticized Sarkozy as one of those “those who sell us the idea that the euro zone would be a doublelocked prison with no key.”

If elected, Le Pen said she plans to close the door of her country not only to globalization but also – and especially – to mass immigration.

“I will cancel the regularization of illegal immigrants and I will reduce the number of visas to 10,000 a year to accommodate artists, sportsmen and research talent, instead of the 203,000 allocated each year,” she said.

According to recent polls, Le Pen is in third place with 15 percent after Sarkozy and Socialist candidate François Hollande, who are still neck-and-neck with around 30 percent. Le Pen is just about tied with Communist Jean-Luc Mélenchon but ahead of centrist François Bayrou.

The election campaign officially began on Monday evening after the Easter holiday, with the same time allotted for each candidate’s advertisements on television and radio spots. The same rule is observed by all television studios and radio broadcasters.

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