Due to the recent massacre in Toulouse, the presidential hopefuls for France have undoubtedly wasted no time exploiting this tragedy for their own political gains. This event has also reopened the debate on immigration and Islam in France, which can essentially reduce engagement and increase barriers between French Muslims and the presidential candidates.
“Presidential Race in France Leaves Muslims Feeling Like Outsiders,” by Steve Erlanger for the New York Times:
Nassurdine Haidari knows that people like himself — black and Muslim and a former imam — are not a target audience for France’s presidential candidates. But he is outraged nonetheless that voters in the banlieues, the poor, heavily immigrant suburbs of French cities, are not only taken for granted but are also used as symbols to promote racial and religious anxiety.
“The banlieues are the great absence in the campaign,” Mr. Haidari said. “We don’t talk about them. People don’t want to talk about them. They don’t want to engage.”
But even his party’s presidential candidate, François Hollande, while campaigning on diversity, equality and new spending on job creation and education, speaks in generalities, Mr. Haidari said. “The entire political class has a problem with Islam,” he said. “It’s disconnected from reality.”
Mr. Hollande proposes a minister for women, Mr. Haidari said, but not for Arabs. “We need a minister for equality, to deal with all the discrimination,” he said.
As for President Nicolas Sarkozy and the members of the far-right National Front, they are playing the politics of division and scapegoating, Mr. Haidari said. “The issue isn’t the burqa,” the full-face veil, he said. “They do it to raise the pressure. It’s to show people that ‘we can handle the Muslims.’ ”…