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Le Pen Receives Rough Reception - 2002-04-25

Extreme right French presidential candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen got a rough reception at the European parliament Wednesday. He was booed by colleagues and cancelled a news conference as demonstrators wearing "Stop the Nazis" stickers protested his far-right views.

Mr. Le Pen had a stormy day at parliament in Brussls where he is a member. When he rose to speak about the Middle East crisis, dozens of parliamentarians stood up holding black-and-white signs saying "Non." They also jeered the politician, who is known for his opposition to immigration and the European Union.

European Parliament President Pat Cox intervened to restore order, and the presidential candidate continued with a short speech on Middle East policy. He was quoted as saying that, in his words "France and Europe are absent since they have fallen in with orders of the United States." He received a few cheers from fellow extreme right-wing parliamentarians, but others continued to boo him, and Mr. Le Pen soon left the chamber.

Mr. Le Pen had planned a press conference for later in another room, but did not go ahead with it, saying too many demonstrators had mixed with journalists. Dozen of protesters had already gathered around the room, many wearing yellow stickers with the words "Stop the Nazis."

Mr. Le Pen has long been a member of the more than 600-seat European Parliament, but has always defended nationalistic interests and attacked principles on which the 15-nation EU is built. If elected president, Le Pen says he would hold a referendum on getting France out of the EU.

Mr. Le Pen came in second, after French Presiden Jacque Chiraq, in the first round of the French Presidential elections last Sunday. The runoff is set for May fifth. There have been widespread condemnations of Mr. Le Pen in the press and political circles in Europe. He is now expected to explain his views on the European Union in Paris,Friday.