French politicians up in arms after Muslim party joins electoral race

New party Union of French Muslim Democrats (UDMF) [Union des Démocrates Musulmans Français] is to present candidates in eight cities in the local elections to be held in France next month. Established in 2012, the party says it wants to counter the rising tide of islamophobia by giving Muslims a platform in politics. But critics argue it will further isolate the country’s six million Muslims.

“It’s a downright provocation, and an insult to Muslims,” Geoffrey Carvalhinho from the conservative UMP told RFI on Saturday, after France’s all Muslim party announced it would be competing in next month’s local elections.

“I’ve gone door-to-door in my neighbourhood and spoken with Muslims and many have told me they don’t want to make a huge fuss and dance about being Muslim. They’re French, end of story”…

…However, some observers warn that an all-Muslim party set up to echo the community’s concerns, will feed the hysteria of far right parties like the Front National.

“I am against all the things which can separate and divide people”, Gérard Prudhomme, a deputy-mayor from Seine-Saint Denis, a tough Parisian suburb, told RFI. “This kind of initiative will further boost the Front National’s clout.” Marine Le Pen’s party made fresh gains in recent legislative elections, and is hoping to do the same on March 25th…

…Whilst fans of French writer Michel Houellbecq have been quick to point out the parallels between fiction and reality – as in Houellbecq’s last novel “Submission”, he described a scenario in which an all Muslim party would come to power and subject the country to sharia law. The cutoff date was 2022. France still has a long way to go.