The founder of France’s far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been charged with inciting hatred over alleged anti-Semitic remarks he made in 2014, his lawyer said Saturday.
The Honorary President of the National Front (FN), Jean-Marie Le Pen, was indicted on 9 February in Paris for inciting hatred after using the word “batch” in June 2014, said his lawyer, Frédéric Joachim.
The lawyer denounced prosecutions based on “deliberately truncated” statements attributed to information that they do not have.
The situation goes back to June 2014 when Le Pen in a video clip posted on the FN website, railed against a number of critics including pop star Madonna and Yannick Noah, American singer and former tennis champion.
When asked about another critic — French Jewish singer Patrick Bruel — Le Pen said then that he would be part of “a batch we will get next time,” using the word “fournee” for “batch”, evoking the word “four,” which means “oven.”
This sentence had provoked fierce criticism even within the FN. His daughter and now leader Marine Le Pen considered it a “political fault” and Louis Aliot, one of the vice-presidents of the far-right party, said the choice of the term was “stupid politically and dismaying”.
“The word I used obviously has no anti-Semitic connotation, except for political enemies or imbeciles,” said Jean-Marie Le Pen. “If there are people in my camp who interpret it in this way, it is because they are imbeciles!”
Long history of inciting racial hatred
The now 88-year-old former paratrooper, who has had multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity, once described Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of history.
The European Parliament, of which the elder Le Pen is a member, in late October lifted his parliamentary immunity in the case.
In 2015 Le Pen was kicked out of the party he founded for his views on the Nazi gas chambers and for defending France’s collaborationist wartime Vichy regime.
Last November a French court upheld the FN’s decision to strip him of his membership, but in a small victory for the elder Le Pen it ruled he should be allowed to remain as the party’s honorary president.