Associated Press Interviews Marine Le Pen
She calls herself the “voice of the people,” the anti-system candidate who will ensure social justice for the have-nots and purify a France she says is losing its voice to Europe and threatened by massive immigration and rampant Islamization.
She wants to drastically reduce the number of immigrants – to 10,000 a year – and, a top theme, to crack down for good on what she claims is the growing footprint of Islamic fundamentalists in France. “They are advancing in the neighborhoods. They are putting pressure on the population. They are recruiting young boys” to train for jihad, she said.
Le Pen insisted that fighting so-called Islamization won’t breed a mass killer such as Anders Behring Breivik, the anti-Muslim extremist who is now on trial in Norway after confessing to killing 77 people. The fight must not stop “out of fear of a crazy man,” she said.
Le Pen cites as proof of the Islamist threat in France the case of Mohamed Merah, a young Frenchman of Algerian origin who last month killed three French paratroopers, a rabbi and three Jewish schoolchildren before he was shot dead by police trying to capture him.
She also refuses to be categorized as extreme right, saying that her party is populist.
The image Marine Le Pen projects is less linked to the extreme-right than that of her father, said Nonna Meyer, an expert on the extreme-right vote at the prestigious university Sciences Po.
“She’s younger, she’s a woman, she condemns anti-Semitism. She often says things differently than her father,” Meyer said. “She says she is tolerant, it is Islam that is intolerant … She upends the discourse. But the foundation of the program is the same. If you look at the values her party defends, it is a system at once authoritarian and rejecting of others, rejecting the difference.”