Outgoing President Emmanuel Macron warned his far-right challenger Marine Le Pen on Wednesday that she will bring France to the brink of a civil war if she imposes a ban on the Islamic headscarf, or hijab, if she claims victory in France’s presidential election.
“With me, there will be no ban on headscarves, yarmulkes and religious signs," Macron said during a widely televised debate which was a make-or-break moment for the finalists to convince the millions of electorates to vote in their favor in the second and final round of the election on April 24.
The extreme right discourse which has dominated the campaign also prevailed at the debate.
Le Pen said she intends to liberate Muslim women from the uniform imposed by “the Islamists” by banning the veil in public spaces. Macron opposes the proposed ban, saying it is unconstitutional and will create a “civil war.” He said the 1905 law on secularism was not about “fighting a religion."
Le Pen in turn attacked Macron for creating disunity and dividing the French society during his five years in power. She insisted that her project is about “giving priority to the French in their own country," which she aimed to achieve by introducing a citizens' initiative referendum and other reforms to improve the daily lives of people. She spoke of establishing a public referendum on the subject of immigration to solve the problem of “anarchy and massive immigration” and of creating a European Google for data privacy.