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Français et Musulmans election poster in Paris

French parliamentary elections see the rise of veiled Islamic parties

During the legislative elections in France, several candidates appeared veiled on their election posters. They all belong to parties that do not hide their proximity to the Islamic religion in a "secular" state.

Published: June 22, 2017, 9:08 am

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    In a best-selling French novel by Michel Houellebecq, called Submission published recently, the coming to power of a Muslim political party in 2022 is the main theme. Many voters were nevertheless surprised to see political parties and candidates openly announcing their Islamic platform in 2017 already.

    Candidates who presented themselves veiled on their electoral posters counted at least four: Hülya Sahin (Yvelines) and Nadia Omani (Bouches-du-Rhône) of the Equal Justice Party, Sandra Fourastié (Hauts-de-Seine) The Union of Muslim Democrats (UDMF), and Hanan Zahouani of the French and Muslim Party, a candidate in the 5th district of Seine-Saint-Denis.

    The 40-year-old Franco-Moroccan Zahouani told “Carrying the veil is a personal choice for me and I do not see it as a religious sign. I have been wearing it for about two years following a spiritual journey.” To her detractors, the candidate told them “to accept French society today”.

    Officially, the law is on their side since no legislation imposes religious neutrality on parliamentarians, or even on candidates for elections.

    The Equal Justice Party (PEJ), founded in 2015 and chaired by Sakir Colak, is an Islamic-conservative movement now linked to the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s party.

    The PEJ is part of a network of political parties advanced by Turkey’s President Erdogan and AKP to influence each country of Europe, and to influence Europe through its Muslim population. PEJ has already approved 68 candidates.

    It was created in 2015 in Strasbourg, the de facto other capital of the EU, on the border with Germany. French citizens of Turkish origin are estimated to represent 600 000 people in France, out of a Muslim population estimated at some 15 million, although no official statistics exist.

    The PEJ, is the first party in France established by Turks. The PEJ already participated in elections of the Provincial General Assembly in March 2015, but was eliminated in the first round. The French magazine Marianne reported: “PEJ is closely connected to Council for justice, equality and peace (Cojep), an international NGO which represents, everywhere it is based, an anchor for AKP”, the party of Turkey’s president, Recep Tayip Erdogan. According to L’Express “many managers of PEJ are also in charge in Cojep”.

    Another Muslim party, Français et Musulmans [French and Muslims], was also quietly preparing to erupt on the political scene of the French legislative elections. It originated from L’Union des Organisations Islamiques de France (UOIF) which has been rebaptized “Muslims of France”. Français et Musulmans is the French branch of Muslim Brotherhood.

    In an article from Marianne it was noted that “from Valenciennes to Marseilles, this strange dispensary advances the bearded and the veiled in demanding the repeal of the Law of 1905 on the Separation of Church and State in the name of ‘reasonable accommodation concerning Muslims'”.

    There is also the UDMF, the Union of Muslim Democrats of France. The party was created in 2012 by Najib Azergui and regroups some 10 000 sympathizers. The party presents itself as “non-denominational and non-communal”, but many measures of its program are unequivocal: voting rights of foreigners in local elections, development of hallal trade, fight against Islamophobia, repeal of the law prohibiting the veil at school.

    In fact, all the Islamic parties currently in France have a similar religious platform.

    In 2015, the candidate Nizzarr Bourchada, who is now with the French and Muslim party, was asked about the name of the UDMF, where “Muslims” had replaced “French” Democrats. He had explained that the order had been discussed and it was chosen on purpose to highlight the fact that “Muslim ethics can bring something to France”.

    According Marianne, Mine Gunbay, responsible for women’s rights in the city council of Strasbourg, said Strasbourg was turning into “political laboratory of the AKP”. Strasbourg is the city where Erdogan was authorised by former president Hollande to hold a legal electoral rally in October 2015.

    German and Dutch officials have banned such rallies in their countries. But Denk, a party founded by Tunahan Kuzu and Selçuk Öztürk in March 2017, became the first-ever ethic minority party in the Dutch parliament. The party, also a mouthpiece for the Turkish president, won three seats in the recent election, which was mainly focused on immigration.

    In Germany, the Allianz Deutscher Demokraten (ADD) is a small party founded by Remzi Aru, in reaction to the German Parliament’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide, but has had little success.

    In 2016, “Turkish citizens” founded the New Movement for the Future (NBZ) party in neighbouring Austria. NBZ Chairman, Adnan Dinçer, explained that the rise of “extremist right-wing parties” necessitated the move.

    In Bulgaria, there are three Muslim political parties, in which most of the members are Turkish and Muslim.

    Algerian writer, Kamel Daoud, called these parties “a trap”, especially in France. In an op-ed published in Le Point in 2015, he writes:

    “An Islamic party in France? What a fascinating political object: one cannot refuse it, but one cannot accept it. Nothing better summarizes the situation as a French trap… If France says Yes, she submits in the long term. An Islamic party is an Islamist party by a natural slope…. By definition. Its purpose is to conquer the world, not just to have a mandate. Its mechanics were already established…. Islamists took power in the name of democracy, then suspended democracy by using their power. At best. At worse, Islamists opted for the approach of the crab that keeps its claws behind his back: no political ambitions, but a millenary ambition in the mind: convert clothing, the body, social links, the arts, nursing homes, schools, songs and culture, then, they just wait for the fruit to fall into the turban… An Islamist party is an open trap: you cannot let it in. If you refuse it, your country switches to a dictatorship, but if you accept it, you are at risk of submission….

    “As soon as it bursts onto the political scene, the same consequences appear as in Algeria, Egypt, Pakistan, the Sahel or Tunisia: it divides the country between Eradicators (those who want to eradicate the Islamists) and Reconcilers (those who advocate dialogue with Islamist monologue) and the Fatalists (those who are waiting for something good to happen).”

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