Emmanuel Macron has just been inaugurated as the president of France and French Muslims could not be happier.
The country held two rounds of voting, the first on 23rd April and the second on May 7, 2017. The results of the first round showed that liberal centrist Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen of the National Front were the nation's favorites.
During the campaign, Le Pen promised to end immigration, slash crime, eradicate Islamism, more while Macron claimed that he was “pragmatic and fair” on everything including social issues.
Eventually, May 7th came and the 39-year-old defeated his rival with 66% of the votes. This made him the youngest postwar leader of France. He was inaugurated in a ceremony at the Elysee Palace in Paris on Sunday, May 14.
There have been mixed reactions to this, but I think it's safe to say that French Muslims are quite happy with this new president.
Here is why.
Days before the final vote, both candidates held a live TV presidential debate. Macron was accused of having an “indulgent attitude” towards Islamic fundamentalism. His response was that he would be “uncompromising” on terrorism.
Le Pen, who said that “globalisation and Islamism” were the main threats to France, revealed her plans to stop the problem by banning religious symbols, such as the Muslim headscarf, from all public places.
As you can imagine, this put her in a bad place with French Muslims.
World Religion News reports that Macron had said that “No religion is a problem in France.” During his campaign, he repeatedly said that Muslims had been treated unfairly by the French government. Thus, he promised to protect every French citizen's right to practice their religion in a dignified manner.
In his words,“In our country, everyone is free to believe or not to believe. Everyone is free to practice or no religion, with the level of intensity he desires in his heart ."
He also opposed the ban of Muslim headscarves inside the university grounds. All of these won the French Muslims over to his side. Little wonder, Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, urged the country's nearly five million Muslims to vote for him.
The rector told Muslims to "choose among the candidates the one who defends fraternity among citizens, not discord or hatred."
After the elections, the mosque released a statement. It stated that Macron's win is a "sign of a France reconciled with all its spiritual and religious components in order to respond in unity to the threats of division which weigh upon the nation."
"It is a clear sign of hope for French Muslims that they can live in harmony and within respect of the humanist, patriotic, democratic and secular republican values," it added.
BBC reports that "We're not so stupid in France, finally," was one reaction to the election result.
Al Jazeera spoke to voters and their statements prove that French Muslims are indeed happy with result of the election.
75-year-old Ben Fikih said: "Macron’s victory means hope for the French state. He’s the youngest president we’ve had. God is with him. I hope he will govern with dignity, fraternity and freedom.
I don’t know Macron well, but he’s the future of the French people. There are millions of immigrants here - France is mixed.
The sun is for everyone, we are just passengers in this world. Le Pen’s party members are like the Nazis, it’s in their blood.
She [Marine Le Pen] has a face like a lemon, she’s like a scorpion. She can bite you. She’s racist. For a lot of people racism is hidden, but not for her."
21-year-old Cecile agreed with Fikh saying: "I voted yesterday. I voted for Macron in both rounds and I’m happy. He’s ambitious, audacious, courageous."
He’s trustworthy, I hope.
The rise of the far right in this election was scary. It’s reflective of an anger that is growing in this country."
These statements prove that French Muslims are happy about the newly inaugurated president since they see him as the lesser of two evils.
Do you agree with France's choice?