Majority of French back banning veil in public spaces despite Macron’s alarmist claims of ‘civil war’

By Thomas Brooke
4 Min Read

The majority of French people are in favor of banning the wearing of the Islamic veil in public spaces, new polling reveals.

A survey conducted by the CSA institute for CNews, published on Thursday, revealed that some 60 percent of respondents supported the move advocated by French presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen who faces a showdown with the incumbent Emmanuel Macron on Sunday.

During yesterday’s debate, Macron said that Le Pen would risk “civil war” if she banned the Muslim headscarf or veil.

“With me, there will be no ban on headscarves, yarmulkes and religious signs,” he added.

The banning of headscarves in public had already been a major point of debate between the two second-round presidential candidates ahead of Sunday’s vote, with Emmanuel Macron suggesting the proposal is incompatible with the principle of secularism and the values ​​of the Republic.

Of those questioned, 35 percent declared themselves “totally for” the banning of the veil in public space, while 25 percent revealed they are “rather for” the move. In contrast, 24 percent of respondents are “rather against” the plans, with 16 percent firmly against banning the Islamic item of clothing from public spaces.

The ban was supported in the majority by both men and women, although men were more in favor — 65 percent of male respondents backed the move compared to 56 percent of females.

Typically, the ban was welcomed more with the older, more conservative generation with 71 percent of those aged 65 or over in favor, compared to 58 percent of those aged 18-24.

It is not the only poll of its type either, with a poll conducted last month showing 61 percent were in favor of banning the veil.

Le Pen reiterates her opposition to veil

During a debate on Wednesday in which the ban was discussed, presidential challenger Marine Le Pen refused to differentiate between a hijab and a burqa, and vowed to ensure all Islamic headdresses be prohibited to wear in public.

“I am for the banning of the veil in public space. The veil is a uniform imposed by the Islamists, a large part of the young women who put it on cannot do otherwise in reality, even if they dare not say so,” Le Pen told viewers on Wednesday.

“We must free all of these women and for that we must ban the veil in public space,” she added.

In response, Macron said women should be able to wear what they wanted.

“The principle of equality is that if you follow this logic, Madame Le Pen, you will ban all religious signs in public space and not just the headscarf,” the incumbent president claimed.

Le Pen has said she never supported a ban on yarmulkes, as they do not impede the rights of women to wear what they want.

The survey was carried out via an online questionnaire on April 19 and 20, 2022, with a representative sample of 1,010 people aged 18 or over.

The French head to the polls for the second time in a fortnight on Sunday to decide whether to either reelect Macron, or hand Le Pen the keys to the Élysée Palace.

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