PARIS – A few days before the first round of elections, many French Muslims are still undecided on whom to pick as the republic’s next president for five years, with many divided between indecision and abstention.
“Go vote!” Go to vote! Go to vote!” Amar Lasfar, president of the Union of Islamic Organizations of France (UOIF), now Muslims of France, said during a debate held on Sunday, April 17, on the final day of RAMF (Rencontre Annuelle des Musulmans de France), Saphir News reported.
Vote “because you are first of all citizens,” he added, addressing audience of RAMF.
Four days before the presidential election, the press was eager to probe Muslims’ attitude in polling booth.
According to academic Vincent Geisser, who gave a conference to decrypt the presidential election, Muslims would form an electoral body of 2 million citizens, or 5 percent of the voters.
With four candidates neck-to-neck in the polls, the outcome of the poll could shift in the event of a concentrated vote on a candidate.
“The Muslim vote is a political, media and scientific construction,” and it has no concrete existence, “any more than the Jewish, Protestant, Catholic or Freemason vote,” Geisser said.
Others expected Muslims to choose abstention as a “form of anger” due to “the unpopularity of François Hollande” or “disappointment” towards the political class.
“We will certainly have the highest abstention rate of the Fifth Republic,” announced the activist associative Nabil Ennasri at a conference Saturday, April 15.
Asked about “active abstention,” advocated among others by Tariq Ramadan, the great absent of the RAMF, Ennasri disagreed, considering that “it is a bad choice.
“When you vote you weigh; When you do not vote, you represent nothing,” he added.
This opinion was shared by Vincent Geisser, who considers it “irresponsible” to call for abstention in the light of the current political context.
The dilemma expressed by political analysts were reflected in the opinions of French Muslims, who are still undecided on whom to vote for.
“Those who abstain must refrain from criticizing politics for the next five years because they have not fulfilled their duty,” said Mamadou, a 22-year-old and an electrician, who decided in favor of Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Imane, a 38-year-old mother and a homemaker, tilted to the right but did not stop.
“Every candidate proposes things that interest me, I still have to analyze the programs.”
A similar opinion was shared by Samia, communication manager, who claims to choose her candidate by elimination, also “according to the positions of candidates on the Muslim community.”
Fabrice, 35, still hesitates. According to him, voting is a responsible act because “we must protect the weakest against the extremes.”
Ismael, 31, thinks people should stop making guilty those who choose the abstention.
“I have never voted and I will not vote again this time. No one is worthy of representing the French,” he said.
Others were promoting active participation.
“We are calling on people to express themselves,” Amina and Youssra told the booth of the association Muslim Students of France (EMF).
Its two members, in their twenties, invited passers-by, young and old, to participate in workshops and leave their ideas on a post-it, on a table or on the expression wall.
“We try to diversify (audiences), to go to everybody, we have even challenged children,” which “have the most creative ideas,” they said.