Photo of LREM MP Sara Zemmahi wearing a hijab has provoked outrage from right-handed and LREM itself.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s political party has threatened to withdraw aid from one of its candidates in the run-up to the by-elections.
Stanislas Guerini, who helped secure the Macron administration in 2016, was responding to an online post showing Sara Zemmahi, running to the south Montpellier office.
Zemmahi, an engineer, is seen smiling in a white handkerchief along with three colleagues from the Republic of the Move (LREM) party running in the June 20 and 27 elections.
The photo was posted Monday by the second most right-wing member of France Rally (RN), Jordan Bardella, who also attracted Guerini.
“Wearing religious ornaments on a development document is not in line with the concept of LREM,” Guerini wrote Monday.
“Either these candidates have changed their image, or the LREM has lost their support.”
State spokesman Gabriel Attal backed the decision on France Inter radio on Tuesday, adding that “legally, there is nothing to prevent a candidate from displaying a religious symbol, there is a handkerchief”.
He also said it was a “political choice” to have candidates who do not express their beliefs.
The principles used by LREM are not consistent with the apparent wearing of religious symbols on competitive literature. Followers have changed their image, or LREM will lose their support. https://t.co/7jBY4sGH2j
– Stanislas Guerini (@StanGuerini) May 10, 2021
Investigators say Macron has gone to the right in recent months to save the RN, led by Marine Le Pen, who is seen as his rival in the 2022 election.
France has a strong religion called “laicite” that has been around for over a century fighting for independence between the state and the Catholic Church.
Religious symbols “desires” are also banned in schools, but many in France, especially on the right and right, want to promote restrictions on religious discourse in all public spheres.
A debate has recently been made as to whether women traveling with their children on their way to school should wear a Muslim dress.
Fellow protesters at Zemmahi in Montpellier defended him, saying he was active in local organizations and should not be judged by his appearance.
“I can see Sara’s potential – I don’t see what she’s wearing,” Mahfoud Benali, pictured with the Zemmahi poster, told France 3 local TV.
LREM MP Coralie Dubost also condemned Guerini’s actions in an interview with Radio J.
“If you have young engineers, who work long hours in charity work, who are involved in a successful party – whether they are veiled or not, there is room for them to stay with us,” she said.