Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, said in an interview to Israel’s Channel 2 that her party fully supports the executive order signed by US President Donald Trump last week, in which the president temporarily banned entry to the US to arrivals from seven Muslim-majority countries.
“I strongly oppose the claim that this is an attack against Muslims, this is a lie – because there are dozens of Muslim countries in the world that are not on this list,” Le Pen said. “I see this is infuriating everyone. On the other hand, the fact that there are 15 countries that prevent entry to Israelis is not troubling anyone,” Le Pen said.
“I think patriotism is never racism,” Le Pen told a Channel 2 interviewer. “Loving the country, wanting to preserve the culture and identity, protecting the interests of the Americans in America, of the French in France of the Israelis in Israel seems to me perfectly legitimate,” Le Pen said.
“I say we should behave like landlords and like renters or squatters with no rights. This is the first aspiration of countries – we are the landlords in our countries, so that they remain free and we can live in security,” she added.
Le Pen’s anti-Muslim views are popular among the Israeli right wing, but the party is shunned by official Israel, as are many far-right parties in European countries.
Le Pen is expected to do well in April’s presidential elections. She is expected to win the first round if it were held today, according to the latest polls, but would lose in the run-off on May 7, AFP reported.
The Jewish community in France is also very wary of Le Pen despite its traditionally hawkish leanings. Le Pen wants to promote legislation that would ban religious clothing in public. Her initiative is aimed mainly against the Islamic burqa and the Niqab, but would also ban Jews from wearing a kippa in public.
“Because I think everyone in France should receive the same treatment, I also support the ban on wearing a kippa in the public sphere,” said Le Pen.
“Honestly, the dangerous situation in which Jews in France live is such that those who walk with a kippa are in any case a minority, because they are afraid. But I mainly think the struggle against radical Islam should be a joint struggle and everyone should say, ‘there, we are sacrificing something.’ Maybe they will do with just wearing a hat [instead], but it would be a step in the effort to stamp out radical Islam in France,” she said.
As part of her commitment to secularism, Le Pen is also opposed to ritual kosher and halal slaughter.
The interview was filmed before, but aired shortly after an attack near the Louvre Museum in Paris, in which one soldier was wounded by a man with a machete who shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before being shot and wounded.
Le Pen, who has been leading a staunchly anti-Islamic line, has compared public Muslim prayers in France to the country’s occupation by Nazi Germany during the Second World War.
Months before Trump’s executive order, she called to enact tougher measures against migrants and for police to use more force against terrorism suspects.
Le Pen said that her positions were proven right after other French politicians like President Francois Hollande and former president Nicolas Sarkozy have echoed her views on immigration and radical Islam.
“We are the only and central source of inspiration in French politics for a simple reason: they fought us with unusual toughness, but in practice we were right on all issues,” said Le Pen. “This is why, because of electoral pressure, they have no choice but to toe our line. At least in their words they start speaking like us. There is only one problem: they have no courage, even though they can do it.”