Hinting At Support, Obama Calls Centrist French Presidential Candidate Macron

PARIS (AP) - Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen vowed on Wednesday to end the fear of terrorism in France and stamp out the "poison" of Islamic radicals, holding her final rally in the southern port city of Marseille, where police arrested two men a day earlier on suspicion of plotting an attack around this weekend's vote.

The first round of the French presidential election is scheduled for this Sunday, while the run-off is set for May 7.

The new hardline tack has gained approval from her fans, with many at the Marseille rally chanting "la France aux francais" (France for the French), an old slogan associated with the xenophobia and anti-Semitism that infected the Front National when it was led by Mr Le Pen.

Mélenchon is one of four candidates with a legitimate shot at the presidency.

As of Tuesday, Mr Macron was running at 23 per cent and Ms Le Pen at 22.3 per cent, according to the Bloomberg composite of French polling.

The independent candidate is expected to beat the National Front leader 67 percent to 33 percent.

In a statement, Macron insisted on the importance of respecting France's secular traditions but said they shouldn't be used to target Muslims. But the race to succeed the deeply unpopular socialist President Francois Hollande has tightened in recent weeks.

While prosecutors haven't identified the potential targets, Le Pen said on BFM television that "we are all targets". Some Muslims feel unfairly targeted by French laws banning headscarves in schools and full-face veils in public.

Opponents of Le Pen and her anti-immigration National Front party also skirmished with police outside a Paris rally this week. "Well, France is not for sale, the French people are not for sale", she said.

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