France Election: Le Pen wants Islamist mosques closed

The far-right candidate in Sunday’s presidential election in France, Marine Le Pen, has demanded the closure of all Islamist mosques following a deadly attack on a police bus in the heart of Paris Thursday night.

A French policeman was shot dead and two others were wounded in the attack carried out days before presidential elections and Islamic State militant group quickly claimed responsibility.

According to CNN, candidates were engaging in their final TV debate as at the time of the incident.

Le Pen’s demand came as questions were raised as anger rose about how the suspected Champs-Elysées gunman, Karim Cheurfi, came to be released after being questioned in February over threats to kill police officers.

At a televised news conference Friday, Le Pen called for the closure of all “Islamist” mosques in France, the expulsion of hate preachers and the reinstatement of French borders.

People on the French security services’ watch list for radicalization should also be expelled from France and have their French citizenship revoked in the wake of the attack, she said.

However, Prime Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has accused Le Pen of trying to capitalise on the attack.

President Francois Hollande said he was convinced the “cowardly killing” on the Champs Elysees boulevard, in which the assailant was himself shot dead by police, was an act of terrorism.

The three main candidates cancelled campaign events and instead made televised statements in which they competed to talk tough on security and vowed a crackdown on ISIS.

French authorities, including the domestic security service, began a counterterrorism investigation into Cheurfi last month after learning of his increasing determination to establish communication with an ISIS fighter in Syria and Iraq, a source close to the investigation told CNN Friday.

Center-right candidate François Fillon, Le Pen and independent centrist Emmanuel Macron cancelled planned campaign events after the shooting.

Under French election rules, Friday was due to be the final day of campaigning before Sunday’s first round of voting.

It was unclear whether the attack would tip the balance of the vote in favour of Le Pen, who has vowed to take a tough line on “Islamic terrorism.”


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