The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has warned that his far-right rival Marine Le Pen risked sparking a “civil war” in the European nation if she was elected and implemented her plans to ban the Muslim headscarf in public.

Le Pen has confirmed, in an address, that she stood by her controversial idea of banning the headscarf, which she called “a uniform imposed by Islamists,” but she said she was not “fighting against Islam.”

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Macron, on the other hand, responded, “You are going to cause a civil war.” Both sides have clashed bitterly over relations with Russia and economic policy as they sought to sway undecided voters in a debate four days ahead of the presidential elections.

France faces a harsh choice in Sunday’s second-round run-off among the centrist president Macron & the anti-immigration Le Pen, who will seek to become the nation’s first far-right head of state in an outcome that would send shockwaves around Europe.

In a debate, the president has chosen an aggressive approach, repeatedly seeking to land punches on Le Pen over her record, while she sought to keep the focus on the government’s performance.

The tone has pointed as the discussion moved to foreign policy, with Macron angrily zeroing on a loan Le Pen’s party had taken from a Czech-Russian bank ahead of her 2017 election campaign.

Meanwhile, Macron said, “You are dependent on the Russian government, and you are dependent on Mr Putin. When you talk to Russia, you are talking to your banker.”

Macron and Le Pen, who exchanged a brief handshake before the debate, sat face-to-face at two individual tables separated by just a few metres.

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Le Pen said that she was “an absolutely and totally free woman”, arguing that her party had only taken that loan as it could not find financing in France, where banks refused to lend to her.

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