“Everyone has the right to practice their religion, to worship as they choose,” the French presidential candidate says. “My war is against Islamic fundamentalism.”
The following is a script from “Le Pen,” which aired on March 5, 2017. Anderson Cooper is the correspondent. Michael H. Gavshon, Francois Bringer and David M. Levine, producers.
We begin tonight with a story about a populist politician who rails against free trade, wants to get tougher on immigration, is skeptical of NATO and sympathetic to Russia. We’re talking about a woman named Marine Le Pen, the candidate in France’s upcoming presidential election who’s shocked the political establishment with her meteoric rise, shocked because the name Le Pen has long been associated with anti-Semitism and racism in Europe.
Her party, the National Front, used to be on the fringes of French politics, but in recent years Marine Le Pen has given it a makeover and she’s now riding a wave of populist anger sweeping the West with Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the election of President Trump. And just like Mr. Trump’s rise, the rise of Marine Le Pen is turning conventional political wisdom on its head.
Anderson Cooper: The polls say you can’t win.
Marine Le Pen (translation): Yes. They also said that Brexit wasn’t going to happen, that Donald Trump wasn’t going to be elected, wasn’t even going to be his party’s nominee. Well, they’re saying that less and less now. They are much more cautious, much more cautious now.
The nationalist policies Marine Le Pen embraces are gaining supporters throughout France and around the world. She’s hostile to free trade, rejects open borders and says globalization, promoted for decades by France’s political elites, is destroying her country.
Anderson Cooper: So how do you explain what is happening. Did leaders go too far?
Marine Le Pen (translation): Yes. Yes. Of course they’ve gone too far. Globalization has become an ideology with no constraints. And now, nations are forcing themselves back into the debate. Nations with borders we control, with people that we listen to, with real economies, not Wall Street economies, but rather factories and farmers. And this goes against this unregulated globalization, wild, savage globalization.
Anderson Cooper: Savage globalization?
Marine Le Pen (translation): Yes, Savage of course. Wild globalization has benefited some, but it’s been a catastrophe for most.
A catastrophe, she says, which has ravaged the French economy, as jobs have faded away and immigrants have flooded in, many of them Muslim immigrants, from North Africa who Le Pen says are draining resources, rejecting French values and transforming the culture.
Anderson Cooper: One of the concerns of many of your supporters is that immigration, current immigration is changing the character of France. It’s changing the spirit of the country?
Marine Le Pen (translation): It’s because of this massive immigration and more in some places, (that) France’s image has undeniably changed. There are a number of neighborhoods where you are no longer living a French life. That’s undeniable.
(Cont) CBS NEWS