Le Pen’s attacks on Islam are no longer veiled.

The “anti-white racism” debate is another example of France’s centre right embracing the rhetoric of the far right. Marine Le Pen’s time has come and she knows it.

“Anti-white racism” is big news in France. But while concern over the real or perceived bigotry faced by white people was previously limited to the National Front, a statement from Jean-Francois Cope, the secretary general of Sarkozy’s UMP party has ushered this buzz-phrase into the mainstream.

In his forthcoming book, Manifeste pour une droite décomplexée (Manifesto for an unabashed right-wing), Jean-François Copé declares he is willing to ‘break taboos’ and to denounce the growing ‘anti-white racism’. This mainstreaming of a type of discourse which until recently was limited to the marginal extreme right demonstrates clearly the worrying trend French politics is following. There is little doubt that such a headway into this kind of politics is bound to reinforce Marine Le Pen’s normalisation.

It is therefore no surprise that almost five months after Marine Le Pen gathered 17.9% of the vote in France’s presidential elections, a combination of factors allows her to remain on the centre stage despite her failed bid at a parliamentary seat. Alongside Copé’s comments, the release of the islamophobic film Innocence of Muslims, the violent reaction that ensued in various countries, and the publication of satirical cartoons in French magazine Charlie Hebdo, have indeed returned Le Pen’s momentum, absent since May. The presidential campaign, during which Nicolas Sarkozy made radical headway into extreme right rhetoric, played an important role in Le Pen’s normalisation and in her themes being commonly accepted as valid in the political realm.


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