Emmanuel Frederic Macron is the youngest President in French history. After entering politics through Socialist party , it was after making the En Marche movement - which he himself formed in 2016 - that he became president at the age of 39. He and his party played a no small role in steering the French people, who had been veering from socialism to far right – to a middle line policy. When immigrants and refugees from West Asia and north Africa largely received neglect from other movements, Macron stood out from them with a sympathetic attitude towards them. And even as public spaces had banned display of Islamic symbols, he raised his voice against it. While many member states of European Union , including Britain were preparing to quit it and live in their own shells, he was in the forefront to warn them of its consequences. In other words, Macron's ascent to French leadership and power was achieved through creating a new wave in the country, largely focusing on the humanitarian values seen as synonymous with the concept of European Union, albeit with faults and frailties.
For these reasons, Macron won acceptance similar to that of Justin Trudeau in Canada, Angela Merkel in Germany and Jacintha Ardern in New Zealand. However, of late doubts have arisen whether Macron has been overtly deviating from this political position. For, going by recent experience, Macron has become the advocate of Europe's far right. Most recently, his statements on Islam have triggered wide protests and debates. He said that Islam has become a religion facing a crisis all over the world, and he will not allow French soil for Islamism. The statement came in the background of the killing of a teacher, Samuel Paty on 16 October, in a school near Paris for drawing a cartoon of Prophet Mohammed, the slayer being a Chechnyan born student of the class. This totally uncondonable act had been condemned by every one all over the world. Islamic organisations including Muslim World League and foreign ministries of Islamic countries like Saudi and Jordan decried the brutal deed. Still Macron went on to 'Islamise' that incident. Macron's comments bore clear signs of Islamophobia with a racist streak of viewing the incident not as an isolated one, but a result of Islam itself being at fault. Muslim countries naturally were quick to come out in protest which now has blown out into a diplomatic issue. Matters have come to such a pass that at least a dozen countries have decided to boycott French products.
As a matter of fact, even before the killing of Samuel Paty, Macron had shown signs of Islamophobia, a clear case of it being his speech in early October about the new laws that are going to be introduced in the country. He said that the new law was aimed at saving the country from 'Islamist separatism'. With proposals to put Muslim places or worship in the country under surveillance and to allow foreign funding only for those organisations that sign a 'secular pact', the move can clearly be seen as putting the country's Muslim population under a shadow of doubt. And now in the backdrop of the new incident about 20 mosques have been shut down. It will surprise most that these moves, which would put even Europe's extreme right to shame, come from a man who had once inspired great expectations in the Muslim world. And this is a leader who had raised his voice against the ban of headscarves in French universities by former president Francois Hollande. Now Macron is bent on closing the mosques in France. His earlier soft approach towards refugees too has started hardening. With his joining the school of thought of Europe's far right in equating Muslim refugees with terrorists, only a small number of refugees have since been able to enter French soil. This change of attitude is visible in the public space of France too. The entry of hijab-clad students in many universities and attacks on so dressed women in tourist spots including the Eiffel Tower, have become daily happenings. Mosques were attacked or destroyed in several places. And Macron has been conspicuously silent when racist murder calls came from the extreme right outfits of the country. He has also sided with the neo-Nazi strategy of demonising the victims. One can only pray 'May god save Europe from new French wave of Islamophobia'!