PARIS – The leader of France’s far-right National Front, Marine Le Pen, promised a crackdown on burkini and a ‘Frexit’ referendum to leave the European Union, as she launched her bid to be president on Saturday.
“The British had the courage to choose independence despite all the prophets of doom,” she said in her annual speech to the nucleus of her political support in Brachay, northeastern France, Russia Today reported on Sunday, September 4.
“This referendum on France belonging to the European Union, I will do it. Yes it is possible to change things. Look at the Brits, they chose their destiny, they chose independence,” Le Pen said.
“We can again be a free, proud and independent people.”
In a reference to this summer’s bans on the burkini swimsuit in several French seaside cities, Le Pen declared that women “have the same right to freedom, to respect, the same faculty to benefit from the French way of life on the beach as in the schools, on the street as at work”.
She said she fears “dress segregation” will eventually pave the way for a “physical and legal” relegation of women.
“When are we going to have a ban on make-up? Then a ban (for women) to appear in public?” she asked.
She has called for a nationwide ban on the burkini and the extension of the ban on Islamic headscarves from schools to universities, the civil service and other places of work.
Her ally and FN vice-president Florian Philippot stirred up controversy in far-right ranks on Friday by calling for the 2004 law forbidding “ostentatious religious symbols” in schools to be extended to all public spaces, mentioning not only the Islamic “veil” and the Jewish kippa but also “big crosses”.
Banning crosses was criticized by Robert Ménard, mayor of Béziers, saying it “ignores our country’s Christian roots”.
According to a number of recent polls, Le Pen is likely to secure around 28-31 percent in the first round of votes in the presidential election.
Yet, nearly all polls show her losing the run-off, as her father did against Jacques Chirac in 2002.