With the recent rise of far-right groups in Europe, specifically in France, it leaves immigrants and ethnic minority groups worried about their safety. To protect themselves from far-right groups and terrorist attacks, these minority groups vote in political elections for a candidate that vows to protect them. (Pascoët et al. 2022). It is important to define what a French far-right is. These individuals promote conservative values and favor enforcement of law and order. They carry racist, extreme and anti-Semitic views. Far-right terrorist extremist groups create controversy because often they are French nationalists. (Adghirni 2022). They are proudly born and raised French and scrutinize those who immigrated to France, because they are not truly French in the eyes of nationalists. As a result, this creates a divide in the French population. This impacts the political candidate running for an election because they need to appeal to individuals that generate more votes in their favor. In other words, it creates an intersection of politicians who do not want violence, but also do not want to upset French nationalists or immigrants.
Far-right extremists are accompanied by terrorist-like attacks. For instance, in late October 2019, a far-right extremist, nationalist terror attack occurred when Claude Sinke, an 84-year-old man attacked a mosque in Bayonne, France. As a far-right supporter, Sinke took part as an election candidate for Marine Le Pen’s far-right party Front National (National Rally). Thus, with the far-right nationalist ideals in his mind, he shot two individuals and started a fire to burn down the mosque. He “knew what he was doing” because he picked the Mosque as a target and had a gas canister and arms, displaying his clear racist and Islamophobic intentions. Investigators stated Sinke’s terrorist act stood to avenge the fire at the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in April 2019, which Sinke blamed on Muslims. (Chrisafis 2019). With such extreme, violent terrorist attacks, this creates the question of what France intends on doing to prevent terrorists from affecting France’s national security as well as the well-being of ethnic minority groups in France. (Counter Extremism Project 2021).
In France’s 2022 presidential election, Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen held drastically different viewpoints on France and its domestic and foreign policies. Macron ran a campaign centered on Pro-Europeanism and liberal policies in general. He wants to keep France as an active member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). (Donovan 2022). Conversely, Le Pen ran a campaign focused on extreme right ideologies and pro-French nationalism. She wants France to leave NATO and she wants extreme anti-immigration policies, especially towards Muslims. (Donovan 2022). Her right-wing following created an “us against them” rhetoric. The “us” mainly consists of Christians and white individuals engulfed by globalization. They are “terrorized” by Islamic fundamentalists and are upset about losing their French identity to new religions and cultural values. The “them” includes individuals that the French nationalists blame for the new changes, such as Muslims and foreigners. They take up space where the nationalists used to have positions in the economy and community. (Leicester 2022).
At the end of the election in April 2022, Macron won, but Le Pen got dangerously close to winning. This is startling because it represents how many people were on board with terrorizing Muslim communities and with wanting to stop globalization in France. (Adghirni 2022). Thus, with the election so alarmingly close to selecting a far-right wing nationalist, President Macron decided to intensify his pledge to enhance living standards and improve household purchasing power. President Macron also reduced the number of visas granted to Moroccan, Algerian and Tunisian nationals. However, even with such progress, in June 2022, historic gains by the National Rally helped to limit Macron’s development of its majority in parliament, and Le Pen pledged to make use of her new legislative influence towards French government policy and stop Macron’s developments. (Adghirni 2022).
With the frightening rise of right-wing French nationalist terrorism, such as the attack in October 2019, President Macron intends to utilize his presidency to strengthen France’s alliances. Together, he wants to tackle the beliefs of the political candidates he beat in the election. Macron believes that France has a duty to protect individuals of minority groups living in France. Specifically, France and its allies need to safeguard different Muslim communities who have been surrounded by hate. The French government must battle Islamophobia and xenophobia to combat terrorism and maintain peace. This battle is important because the radicalization of Muslims and their youth could potentially create an angry group of individuals in France. Not only could this create violence in the country but could impact candidates running for election. Thus, by teaming up with international allies, France could possibly prevent a far-right candidate from winning the next election. (Donovan 2022).
Adghirni, Samy. “Analysis | How an Emboldened Far-Right Is Changing French Politics.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 21 June 2022, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/how-an-emboldened-far-right-is-changing-french-politics/2022/06/20/b5c57cfe-f084-11ec-ac16-8fbf7194cd78_story.html.
Chrisafis, Angelique. “Bayonne Mosque Attack Was Terrorism, Says Survivors’ Lawyer.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 31 Oct. 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/oct/31/bayonne-mosque-attack-was-terrorism-says-survivors-lawyer.
Donovan, Miriam. “The 2022 French Presidential Elections and the Rise of the Far-Right in France.” The Organization for World Peace, 15 May 2022, https://theowp.org/reports/the-2022-french-presidential-elections-and-the-rise-of-the-far-right-in-france/.
“France: Extremism and Terrorism.” Counter Extremism Project, 1 May 2021, https://www.counterextremism.com/countries/france-extremism-and-terrorism.
Leicester, John. “Analysis: Loss Is Victory for Far-Right in France’s Election.” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 25 Apr. 2022, https://apnews.com/article/immigration-religion-france-elections-presidential-a63b8815ce42892308ed5df0315f6def
Pascoët, Julie, and Nabil Sanaullah. “Europe’s Far Right and the New Racist Normal.” POLITICO, POLITICO, 19 July 2022, https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-far-right-new-racist-normal/.