Le Pen Gains Ground Over (And Among) Arabs

Polls suggest that far-right candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen could do even better in the first round of presidential voting this Sunday than in the 2002 election, when he came in second. Le Pen’s views that North African immigrants cause crime and should be deported even resonate with French Muslims, who say he represents “wholesome values” and will deal with extremists, the BBC reports. In Marseille, children of North African immigrants don’t know who to vote for but agree with Le Pen that immigration has caused mass unemployment that could cost them their jobs. Sources:
“In Marseille, North Africans want brakes on immigration”
Agence France-Presse, April 16, 2007
“Le Pen urges halt to immigration”
BBC (U.K.), April 17, 2007

FOCUS: The Saudi Election

By Jodi Wynn, Newsdesk.org intern
Many Saudis were skeptical when their government — an absolute monarchy — announced it would be holding the first in a series of municipal elections on February 10, 2005. To many, the attempt at democracy seemed to be an effort to appease the West and reformists. Despite the fact that half the council seats and official government positions will be appointed, the election is unprecedented, and may represent a major change in the idea of government in Saudi Arabia. But there are many factors that may undermine the process. The exclusion of women from the polls brought condemnation from Western media, but was described as only practical by a Saudi journalist.