French President Macron, candidate for the re-election, campaigns in Marseille

Macron courts voters in Marseille ahead of presidential runoff

PARIS (AP) — French President Emmanuel Macron is holding a major campaign rally in Marseille to try to draw in voters who supported a leftist candidate in the first round of France’s presidential election, ahead of Macron’s April 24 presidential runoff with far-right challenger Marine Le Pen.

Voters in the multicultural southern French Mediterranean city — one which has often been associated with racism and gang violence — favored hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon against the centrist Macron in the April 10 first round of voting that knocked out 10 candidates. Melenchon came in third, after Macron and Le Pen.

But even though Macron come out on top, with Le Pen in second place and far-right support growing in France, the 44-year-old has publicly acknowledged that “nothing is decided” in the tight race to become France’s next leader.

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Le Pen spent Saturday reaching out to voters in Saint-Rémy-sur-Avre, a village in the northwestern France, where she visited an antiques market.

While campaigning Friday, both candidates were grilled over their differing stances on Muslim religious dress in public spaces — Le Pen wants to ban headscarves in France, a country that has Europe’s largest Muslim population. Both Le Pen and Macron were confronted by women in headscarves who asked why their clothing choices should be caught up in politics.

Across France, protesters are railing against a host of issues ahead of the second and final presidential vote.

In the center of Paris on Saturday, environmental group Extinction Rebellion launched a three-day demonstration against what they call France’s inaction on climate issues. The activists say their objective is “to put climate issues back at the center of the presidential debate.”

Hundreds of activists from the environmental group XR are also asking both presidential candidates to make commitments to protect the environment.