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French far right uses halal accusation to woo voters

24 February 2012 General 19 Comments Email This Post Email This Post
France's far right presidential candidate and National Front party president Marine Le Pen attends a news conference during the opening of her presidential convention in Lille February 18, 2012.

France's far right presidential candidate and National Front party president Marine Le Pen attends a news conference during the opening of her presidential convention in Lille February 18, 2012.

By John Irish

(Reuters) – French far-right leader Marine Le Pen switched her presidential campaign back to immigration on Sunday, accusing Nicolas Sarkozy of bowing to Muslim pressure over how animals are killed for meat, to try to head off his attempts to poach her supporters.

Le Pen had sought to attract voters by shifting from a traditional emphasis on immigration and French identity to leaving the euro and imposing protectionist barriers, to exploit discontent over the debt crisis in Europe and globalization.

But at a congress of her National Front party in Lille, Le Pen returned to familiar anti-immigration territory, saying she had proof that all meat in Paris was halal – killed by cutting the animal’s throat and letting its blood drain out.

“This situation is deception and the government has been fully aware of it for months,” Le Pen said. “All the abattoirs of the Paris region have succumbed to the rules of a minority. We have reason to be disgusted.”

Le Pen’s aides said she would file a legal complaint on the matter. During her closing speech she said the government was bowing down to “Islamic radicals.”

The main meat industry association, Interbev, denied the allegation, saying the vast majority of the meat in Paris was not slaughtered under halal practices, but the episode showed Le Pen was trying to win back wavering voters.

Most analysts deem her economic program as not credible and question the strategy of moving from the party’s core message. Criticism of her economic policies has provided an opportunity for Sarkozy to woo far-right voters as he did in 2007 when he ran on a strong security and immigration platform.

“Nicolas Sarkozy is trying to renew 2007 by encroaching on our turf,” Nicolas Bay, Le Pen’s adviser on immigration issues, told Reuters. “That means we have to go on the offensive as we have no intention of letting him do it again.”

OPINION POLLS

Le Pen is third in the opinion polls behind Socialist candidate Francois Hollande and Sarkozy. The first round of the presidential election is on April 22.

At one point in January, Le Pen was snapping at the conservative leader’s heels, but a BVA poll on Friday showed Sarkozy had an 11 point lead over her in the first round, although it said Hollande would beat the incumbent in the May 6 runoff.

Since announcing his campaign on February 15, Sarkozy has looked further right to win votes and proposed a referendum on battling illegal immigration, something the far right has championed for several years.

In January, his government trumpeted the deportation of a record number of illegal migrants in 2011, and Sarkozy has set himself the goal of cutting legal migration to France to 150,000 people a year, having cut the quota to 180,000 from 200,000.

Le Pen’s National Front, founded 40 years ago by her ex-paratrooper father Jean-Marie, is still fuelled by anti-immigrant rhetoric. Among her ideas for protecting welfare are toughening citizenship requirements, shutting borders and forbidding foreigners from access to any social aid.

She said she was the only viable voice of the nation in the face of Sarkozy and Hollande, who she described as the candidates of “globalization, immigration and insecurity.”

“People of France, give Nicolas Sarkozy a red card! Get him definitively off the pitch,” Le Pen said as 2,000 National Front supporters cheered, brandishing red cards and French flags.

Bay said it was important that issues such as the halal meat accusation were made public to show how Muslim values were influencing policy and endangering secular traditions.

Le Pen says that crimes committed by foreigners had risen as the number of immigrants had risen and that immigration costs France as much as 70 billion euros a year. She has pledged to reduce the number of immigrants to 10,000 a year.

“I think in 2007 (Sarkozy) managed to blindside us using our themes because he was able to appear as a new candidate … and the National Front didn’t have the dynamic we have now with Marine Le Pen,” Bay said. “But now he has bad track record and we have momentum around Marine so it will be difficult for him.”

(Additional reporting by Gerard Bon and Patrick Vignal; Editing by Alison Williams)

Original post: French far right uses halal accusation to woo voters

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19 Comments »

  1. Interesting.

  2. Aren’t Halal meat shops businesses owned by individuals? What’s the big deal?

  3. The far right in every country makes up bullsh*t to attract support, because otherwise their nuttiness would drive EVERYBODY away.

  4. Well, when it comes to mercy for animals VS ANY religious belief I’ll take mercy ANY TIME.

  5. interseting the politics of other countries.

  6. far right= insane

  7. It’s funny the lengths some people will go to. “Halal” means, among other things, that the meat was obtained with cleanliness and compassion. Would anyone like to argue that filth and cruelty are better?

  8. Maybe they want us all to just eat cheese since the French make a lot of that…

  9. John, didn’t you know? Clearly raising animals in industrial caging complexes and butchering them in a mechanical line with plenty application of kicks, electric prods, etc is better.

  10. I generally am more in support of the underdog, and those discriminated against, but I will never support the savagery and barbarity of “halal”. Islamophobia Today you do not have my support trying to get The United Kingdom or France to engage in this brutal ancient practice of butchering animals!

  11. Dear Mr Salter. You truly seem mistaken about the halal practice of slaughtering animals. I suggest you read a bit more about how it must be conducted and please please read books from muslim scholars, not any book written by any self proclaimed expert, and then compare it with the electrocution of animals and then serving their meat before it is even emptied from its blood. The same applies to kocher meat which is identical to Halal.

  12. Rob, should kosher slaughter be banned as well? They pretty much follow the same procedure, except with different prayers. Also, if you ban Halal slaughter, civil disobedience will and should follow. Government should not tell small businesses how to do things, like slaughter animals.

  13. The French have been watching the Rethuglican debates, apparently.

  14. Taking it to the extreme…..niche gut!

  15. I’m french and I hate this woman ..

  16. Abu Hamza: “…please read books from muslim scholars…” concerning serving meat “…before it is even emptied from its blood.” Believe what you will, but if Muslim scholars write this, they are simply wrong. It’s only cosmetic (superficial) to believe that meat is ever “emptied from its blood”.

  17. So much like the Dutch and Norwegians who are against Kosher slaughtering as well. A diversionary tactic to get voters off of the real economic problems in Europe and onto divisive religious issues best left up to individuals to decide, not legislation.

  18. yuh i had to giggle at the peopl esaying halal slaughter is crule when its one sure slice that kills the animal quickly. they prefer electricuted and bludgened meat that is still alive when skinned and gutted.. yes the non kosher and non halal meats can still be alive when they are skinned or gutted!!

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