France

France’s Le Pen renews anti-Islam remarks, shies away from Trump ahead of election

Though Le Pen was the first foreign politician to congratulate Trump on his election win, she has since shied away from mentioning him in campaign speeches — polls show nearly 8 in 10 French voters view Trump negatively.

Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Front party and candidate in the French 2017 presidential elections, at Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, Jan. 12, 2017. (KEVIN HAGEN / NYT)

PARIS—With just three weeks before the first round of France’s presidential election, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen is working to galvanize voters with the anti-Islam rhetoric that is one of her trademarks.

Le Pen addressed thousands of supporters on Sunday in the southwest French city of Bordeaux, where she vowed to “uncompromisingly fight Islamist fundamentalism which seeks to impose its oppressive rules in our country.”

She also criticized the head scarves that some Muslim women wear, saying “girls in France should be able to dress as they wish” and “shouldn’t be forced to bury themselves under clothes of another age.”

Polls suggest Le Pen is one of the top contenders in the election’s first round on April 23, but would lose in the May 7 runoff.

In the early hours of Nov. 9, Marine Le Pen was the first foreign politician to congratulate the new U.S. president-elect.

In the weeks that followed, the leader of France’s far-right National Front did everything she could to tie her presidential campaign to the upset victory of Donald Trump, claiming that she would be the next chapter in a global populist revolt against the “establishment.”

On the morning after the U.S. election, she took to the stage at her party’s headquarters outside Paris, heralding Brexit and Trump as part of an unstoppable worldwide phenomenon — “democratic choices that bury the old order and stepping-stones to building tomorrow’s world.”

But a month before the first round of the French elections, Le Pen’s tone has markedly changed: no more President Trump — at least not for now.

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