French President Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday that his far-right rival Marine Le Pen risked sparking a “civil war” if she was elected and implemented her plans to ban the Muslim headscarf in public.
During a televised presidential debate, Le Pen confirmed that she stood by her controversial idea of banning the headscarf, which she called “a uniform imposed by Islamists”, but she said she was not “fighting against Islam”.
Macron responded: “You are going to cause a civil war if you do that. I say this sincerely.
“France, the home of the Enlightenment and universalism, will become the first country in the world to ban religious symbols in public spaces. That's what you're proposing, it doesn't make sense,” he continued.
“You're proposing how many policemen to go running after a headscarf or a kippa or a religious symbol?”
Le Pen initially sought to play down the importance of the ban when asked about it, saying it was “causing excitement in the media these last few days although it is just one part of a whole”.
“What I want to do is fight against Islamism because, unlike what you say, I haven't forgotten that there is terrorism, I haven't forgotten that there are Islamists,” she said, addressing Macron.
“I think we need to introduce a law against Islamist ideology. I'm not fighting against a religion, I'm not against Islam, which is a religion that has a place (in France),” she added.
“I'm fighting against Islamist ideology which is way of thinking that undermines the foundations of our republic, which undermines equality between men and women, undermines secularism, undermines democracy,” she said.