From The Washington Times
By Karine G. Barzegar – Special to The Washington Times
PARIS — France’s Muslim community is mobilizing voters to reject President Nicolas Sarkozy in Sunday’s election to punish the conservative leader for his anti-immigrant/anti-Islam rhetoric.
“[French] Muslims can’t stand it anymore. They are fed up with these debates about national identity, Halal meat, the veil or fundamentalism all over the place,” said Francoise Lorcerie, a sociologist with the Institute of Studies on the Arab and Muslim World near Marseille.
“The terms [Islam, immigration and fundamentalism] are being used interchangeably, without care, with people being targeted, denigrated and used for [votes].”
The debates and rhetoric aren’t new and have been at the heart of French political campaigns for the past decade.
Muslims — especially those living in the “banlieues,” France’s poor immigrant suburbs — sometimes have been courted by candidates with promises of jobs and better living conditions. But mostly, they have been stigmatized as a threat to the French identity in order to win votes, analysts say.