For France’s Muslims, a Choice Between Lesser Evils in Presidential Vote

11:38 AM Aida Alami 0 Comments


BONDY, France — Abdelkrim Bouadla voted enthusiastically for Emmanuel Macron five years ago, drawn by his youth and his message of transforming France. But after a presidency that he believes harmed French Muslims like himself, Mr. Bouadla, a community leader who has long worked with troubled young people, was torn.

He likened the choice confronting him in France’s presidential runoff on Sunday — featuring Mr. Macron and Marine Le Pen, whose far-right party has a long history of anti-Muslim positions, racism and xenophobia — as “breaking your ribs or breaking your legs.”

Mr. Macron and Ms. Le Pen are now fighting over the 7.7 million voters who backed Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leftist leader who earned a strong third-place finish in the first round of the election. Were they to break strongly for one of the candidates, it could prove decisive.

Nearly 70 percent of Muslims voted for Mr. Mélenchon, the only major candidate to have consistently condemned discrimination against Muslims, according to the polling firm Ifop.

By contrast, Mr. Macron garnered only 14 percent of Muslim voters’ support this year, compared with 24 percent in 2017. Ms. Le Pen got 7 percent in the first round this year. Nationwide, according to Ifop, the turnout of Muslim voters was a couple of percentage points higher than the average.

As the two candidates battle it out in the closing days of a tight race, Mr. Macron’s prospects may rest partly on whether he can convince Muslim voters like Mr. Bouadla that he is their best option — and that staying home risks installing a chilling new anti-Muslim leadership.

In Mr. Bouadla’s telling, however, that will take some doing.


Read the rest of the story on the New York Times' website

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