The Latest: Macron meets Muslim leader, hails common ground

AP News
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Posted: Apr 19, 2017 1:30 PM
The Latest: Macron meets Muslim leader, hails common ground

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on the French presidential campaign (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron says the French state and the Muslim community are fighting on a "common front" against Islamic extremism.

Independent centrist Macron met Wednesday with the head of leading French Muslim group CFCM, Anouar Kbibech, just ahead of Sunday's presidential election first round.

In a statement, Macron insisted on the importance of respecting France's secular traditions but said they shouldn't be used to target Muslims. Some Muslims feel unfairly targeted by French laws banning headscarves in schools and full-face veils in public.

Polls suggest Macron has a good chance of coming out on top of Sunday's first round and reaching the May 7 runoff.

Also Wednesday, the Grand Mosque of Lyon issued an appeal urging Muslims to cast ballots instead of isolating themselves, "so that all the children of France, regardless of their skin color, their origins or their religion, are fully involved in the future of their country."

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6:20 p.m.

French Socialist presidential candidate Benoit Hamon is holding a rally and concert in Paris four days before a vote likely to devastate his once-powerful party.

Hamon is polling a distant fifth place ahead of Sunday's first-round election and has little chance of reaching the decisive May 7 runoff. He pledges a universal income, tax on robots and legal cannabis.

Crowds converged for a concert and Hamon speech at Place de la Republique, which has become a symbolic rallying place for the French left.

Some Socialist heavyweights are joining him at the event, though others are urging voters to choose centrist independent Emmanuel Macron instead.

Hamon won the Socialist primary but the party is deeply divided, and Socialist President Francois Hollande is so unpopular that he's not seeking a second term.

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10:45 a.m.

French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says all the presidential contenders — and all French people — are potential attack targets.

The candidates for France's first-round presidential election Sunday have increased security in recent days. Authorities announced Tuesday that they had arrested two Islamic radicals suspected of plotting a possible attack around the vote.

While prosecutors haven't identified the potential targets, Le Pen said on BFM television that "we are all targets. All the French."

Le Pen also defended her decision to force national French news network TF1 to take down the European flag during an interview Tuesday night. She said Wednesday that "I am a candidate in the election for the French republic" and said Europe is acting like France's "enemy."