'The Front National's enemy is no longer the Jew but the French Muslim'

By and

France's far-right Front National party won a quarter of the popular vote in May's European elections, albeit on a low turnout, as xenophobic, nationalist parties across Europe made significant gains. The result seemed to vindicate FN president Marine Le Pen's strategy of trying to change the party's image, shedding the anti-Semitism of the past and donning a cloak of respectability. But in a detailed history of the Front National published last month, researcher Valérie Igounet shows that the new image is just a veneer that cracks whenever the ghosts of the party's past rear their heads. Meanwhile the party has simply replaced Jews with Muslims as the principal target of its attacks. Igounet explains her findings to Mediapart’s Joseph Confavreux and Marine Turchi.

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The French Front National (FN) claims it has undergone a sea change since Marine Le Pen, daughter of party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, took over at its helm in 2011. It has tried to shed its image as a neo-fascist party, instead presenting itself as anti-establishment, rooting for the common people and even contesting its far-right label.