France, Too?

By: Scott Robbins

As the world waits to see who will be the next French president, there is certainly a lot of controversies. Some are fearful; while others are excited. After 9 presidential candidates were eliminated in France, 2 candidates remain. One of the remaining two candidates for president of France is Ms. Le Pen, an extreme conservative, who has created a ton of contention.

As a ramification of her radical conservative policies and family history, Ms. Le Pen has drawn harsh criticism from some French people. However, she has gotten enthusiasm from others. One of her controversial policies is that Le Pen wants to disallow people from wearing objects that symbolize any religion in all public places. While France does intend to be a secular nation, her policies are surely radical, raising questions about whether there should be boundaries in this area. Additionally, with a father who denies that the holocaust took place and an anti-immigrant policy central to her campaign, there is a prevalent concern that this policy would target certain types of oppressed people. Anti-semitism and islamophobia have been a force strong enough to worry many people in France, as a myriad of hate crimes have taken many innocent lives in France. Most notably, two years ago, a series of murders of Jews occurred in Jewish centers in France. Would disallowing Jewish people to wear Jewish apparel in public places doesn’t seem like it would mitigate this ongoing anti-Semitism? Would this make Jewish people make safer walking around in France, with not only sometimes receiving resentment from other anti-semitic individuals for indicating that they are Jewish, but also, having it be disallowed for them to wear clothing that indicates that they are Jewish? Similar to other countries, islamophobia and a hatred of foreigners exist in France, so the same questions arise for Muslim people in France. Plus, Ms. Le Pen wants to largely limit the number of refugees France accepts implement more hostile policies towards immigrants by designating less money to support programs that help refugees, many of whom affected would be Muslims.

Also, Le Pen wants France to leave the European Union and NATO, similar to the referendum on Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory. The case for this is that countries should not pay more than what they receive from it. When countries leave larger organizations or alliances that, it yields instability. While not all decisions in the EU will directly help a certain country, it indirectly helps all countries in the world. When countries go bankrupt and need international help, they are prone to revolutions that are perilous to the rest of the world, and the chances of this happening drastically decrease when those countries receive international aid. For example, when Germany and Italy were suffering after WWI, dictators that preached nationalism took power. Mussolini and Hitler seized the opportunity to establish regimes because of the poor economy, which was not receiving any international help. So, some people in those countries wanted radical change because they were suffering and wanted to try new things, which eventually led to oppression and WWII. But, when countries receive international support in times of need, particularly from larger alliances like the EU, the chances of these negative ramifications go down. For instance, France needed to pay more money to the EU to help Greece recover from an economic recession, which indirectly helps France because it raises the chances that if they took a fall, other countries part of the EU would help and a slimmer chance of war. Simply put, if France left the EU, it would weaken the EU, which would mean more instability for the world. However, Ms. Le Pen and other conservatives clearly do not view this matter with a similar lens.

And, as I mentioned earlier, she wants to prohibit people from wearing any apparel that represents religion, which would drastically affect Muslim refugees. While I believe that there is a need for everyone to do whatever is necessary in order to have a robust and accepting society, I feel that if one wants to practice a religion in a peaceful way, they should 100% be allowed to. And, to me, not allowing people from wearing objects that represent those religions violate this right of religious freedom. These policies are similar to Donald Trump’s, who also wants to lower a number of refugees the United States accepts. Ms. Le Pen and Donald Trump believe that the way to avoid more terrorist attacks is to accept fewer refugees, particularly from predominantly Muslim countries.

While I condemn Ms. Le Pen’s policies, I feel that certain times of clothing do promote sexism. For instance, the burka, which is a type of clothing worn by some Muslim women covers women’s entire bodies except for their eyes, promotes discrimination because it comes from the belief that no one should be allowed to be allowed to make contact with or look at a woman of their gender. This also encourages homophobia, as it makes it the norm for people to be straight. But, I disagree with Ms. Le Pen’s harsh policies that simply reflect non-discriminatory cultures, such as a hijab or a Jewish person being able to wear a yamaka.

Currently, most polls have Le Pen as the underdog to become president, but the polls have been narrowing. The most recent terrorist attack in France seems to have helped Le Pen’s message of anti-immigrant, anti-religion, and secularism. But, I feel that mustering support from religious communities is integral to forming an accepting society that can defeat terrorism. I do not believe that passing laws targeting religious people for wearing objects that just represent their religion in a respectful way is the solution, but rather, I believe it creates more problems.

I wonder what the world would look like if 3 major changes in influential western powers in 1 year: Brexit, Trump’s victory, and potentially Le Pen’s victory. Countries will have to be more self-reliant and less willing to help other nations, but we very well could see more instability and radical governments take charge when the people in impoverished countries are suffering and get no international help. So, if Ms. Le Pen wins, NATO and the EU would seem to inevitably become weaker, as they already have recently from Brexit and Trump’s victory. And, what will happen with the refugee crisis? I wonder if there will be an amount of civilian deaths before governments work to solve it by rescuing innocent people who are suffering from wars. The election starts soon and it will be a test over whether France wants to take a similar path that the US and Great Britain took in this past year. Or, will France in the end deny Ms. Le Pen’s policies, possibly swinging momentum in the other direction?
If you have an opinion, you are more than welcome to write an article and/or attend Current Events Club on day 7 in room 202!


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