News / Europe

France's Marine Le Pen Rebukes Father in New Anti-Semitism Row

FILE - Marine Le Pen, France's National Front political party head, attends a news conference at the party's headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris, May 27, 2014.
FILE - Marine Le Pen, France's National Front political party head, attends a news conference at the party's headquarters in Nanterre, near Paris, May 27, 2014.
Reuters
Marine Le Pen, leader of France's far-right National Front (FN), rebuked her father and former party head on Sunday for remarks reviving long-standing allegations of anti-Semitism soon after a major poll victory.

Marine Le Pen, who took over the anti-immigrant and anti-EU party from Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011, said a controversial quip he made about a French Jewish singer that included an implied reference to concentration camp ovens had been misinterpreted.

But for an experienced politician like her father, she said, “not to have foreseen how this phrase would be interpreted is a political mistake the National Front is [now] paying for.”

Marine Le Pen, who has made the FN more acceptable to voters by playing down some hardline traditions, led the party last month to first place in French voting for the European Parliament, the first time it has ever won a nationwide poll.

French and European Jewish groups denounced her father's comments as anti-Semitic. Another prominent leader of the FN, speaking out before Marine Le Pen, said his attack was “politically stupid and deplorable.”

Faux pas

The controversy began on Friday with a video posted on the FN website in which Jean-Marie Le Pen lashed out at several celebrities - including U.S. singer Madonna, French comedian Guy Bedos and tennis star Yannick Noah - for expressing alarm that the party had swept 25 percent of the European Parliament vote.
FILE - France's far-right National Front political party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen speaks to journalists at a news conference in Marseille March 27, 2014.FILE - France's far-right National Front political party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen speaks to journalists at a news conference in Marseille March 27, 2014.
x
FILE - France's far-right National Front political party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen speaks to journalists at a news conference in Marseille March 27, 2014.
FILE - France's far-right National Front political party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen speaks to journalists at a news conference in Marseille March 27, 2014.
 

Reminded by his interviewer that Jewish singer Patrick Bruel was among the critics, Le Pen chuckled and said: “That doesn't surprise me. Listen, we'll do up a batch next time.”

Le Pen has often used subtle word play to hint at anti-Semitic views without clearly saying them. His word for “batch” - fournee - is a baking term that originally meant “ovenful.”

He was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1996 for saying the gas chambers used to kill Jews in the Holocaust were “merely a detail in the history of the Second World War.”

Criticism

Bruel responded to his video with a tweet saying: “J.M. Le Pen reoffends.... Did he need to remind us of his true face and that of the FN?”

Marine Le Pen told Le Figaro daily, in comments distributed before publication, that the assumption that her father's comments were anti-Semitic was a “malicious interpretation.”


She said the incident had a positive side in that “it allows me to reiterate that the National Front most firmly condemns every form of anti-Semitism, in whatever form it takes.”

FN vice-president Louis Aliot had not seen the video but told the Le Parisien daily: “If he used the term 'batch,' that's one more wrong phrase. It's politically stupid and deplorable.”

Gilbert Collard, an FN member of parliament, called the comments “unacceptable, intolerable” and harmful for the party. He hinted on BFM TV that Le Pen should retire.

Jewish groups react

Jewish groups reacted sharply to the comments. The French Jewish students' union UEJF said it would sue both father and daughter Le Pen for what it called “this openly anti-Semitic declaration.”

The European Jewish Congress called on the European Union to remove his parliamentary immunity and for him to be charged with incitement. Le Pen is a European Parliament deputy for the FN.

European Jewish Congress President Moshe Kantor said Le Pen's latest comments had “unmasked the true face of the far-right of Europe days after their electoral successes.”

”While some have tried to whitewash and mainstream these parties, Le Pen's comments demonstrate that they still stand on foundations of hatred, anti-Semitism and xenophobia,” he said.

Le Pen, who turns 86 later this month, responded to the wave of criticism on Sunday by saying on BFM TV he had never made an anti-Semitic declaration in his 60-year career in public life.

Florian Philippot, another FN vice-president, regretted the brutality of Le Pen's attack on the party's critics but denied it was anti-Semitic, saying: “Anti-Semitism is contrary to all the FN's values.”

Since taking control of the party, trained lawyer Marine Le Pen has transformed the FN's image to make it more acceptable as a party of government, marginalizing the party's old guard and punishing overt racism within party ranks.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid