As the French presidential elections draw nearer, the race seems certain to end up as a head-to-head battle between center-left candidate Emmanuel Macron and populist candidate Marine Le Pen. Although Macron is the current favorite to win the presidency, he is now facing blowback for characterizing terrorism as an unsolvable problem that France will just have to deal with.
In an interview with French radio, Macron responded to the Thursday Champs Élysées shooting that saw one policeman get killed and two others wounded in an attack for which ISIS has taken responsibility.
“This threat, this imponderable problem, is part of our daily lives for the years to come,” he said. “I would like to express my support for our police forces and more generally the forces of law and order. I am particularly thinking of the victim’s family.”
In contrast, Le Pen responded with fury directed at current and previous French governments for being too lax on Islamic fundamentalism and too naïve about the threat posed by unchecked mass migration.
“This war is asymmetric and revolutionary, it is a war in which all the population, all the country is targeted. It is obviously a war we cannot lose,” she said. “The Islamist, Salafist ideology has no right to be in France and should be banned. Preachers of hate should be expelled and their mosques closed.”
Le Pen also called for all dual-citizenship holders suspected of posing a risk to national security to be expelled from the country and have their citizenship revoked, as well as for French-born proponents of “an enemy ideology” to face “immediate administrative or criminal attention.”
Macron, who has been compared to former President Barack Obama, became a senior member of French President Francois Hollande’s staff in 2012 and become Minister of Economy in 2014. Hollande’s approval rating sunk to a jaw-dropping 4 percent last year due to a lagging economy and multiple deadly terror incidents.