France have elected a new president, yet what information do we know about the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood? And what can we expect to see across the country from the new president? The Obscurer takes a deeper look into the man behind one of the greatest shifts in western democracy in modern history.
Mohammed Ben Abbes, perhaps predictably, has been keen to distance himself from the political elites that have such levels of disdain in modern politics and is keen to present himself in the lineage of his father, a Tunisian neighbourhood grocer. Despite this apparent humble upbringing, it is worth noting that his shop was on a fashionable street in Neully-nur-Seine, not the Eighteenth Arrondissement, much less the ghettos of Bezons or Argenteuil.
Furthermore, when you see this round, twinkling-eyed man, so mischievous with members of the press, it is easy to forget that he’d been one of the youngest students ever admitted to the École Polytechnique, or that he had been a classmate of Laurent Wauquiez at the École Nationale d’Administration in 2001, the year the students honoured Nelson Mandela as their class patron.
Ben Abbes may represent a shift away from the two traditional parties of the French political system, whilst at the same time reminding the electorate how “no-one has benefitted from our republican meritocracy than I have”. He has indicated how he has no wish to undermine a system to which he owes everything.
Despite the repeated assertions, Ben Abbes is keen to recognise how times have changed, and that more and more families want their children’s education “to include spiritual instruction in their own tradition”.
Certain voters have been keen to seek clarification on Ben Abbes’s stance, citing frustration at how even the most tenacious, aggressive reporters go soft in his presence. Over time some tough questions need answering, namely on the ban on co-education, or the suspicion that teachers would need to convert to Islam.
Most political commentators and critics have come to agree that Ben Abbes’s real stroke of genius was to grasp that elections would no longer be about the economy, but about values. Ben Abbes restored sharia to traditional, reassuring values-with the added perfume of exoticism that made it all the more attractive to the French public.
Both the right and the left-wing parties struggled to respond to his campaign centred on family values, traditional morality and, by extension, patriarchy. An avenue opened where neither conservatives nor the National Front could critique his approach without being described as ‘fascists’; with the left paralysed by his multicultural background, unable to mention his name, never mind fight him on politics.
It leaves a political party led by a moderate Muslim that appears untouchable to both sides of the political spectrum, with the overwhelming backing of the French public.