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

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. More

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

Dropout rate at an all-time high in South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during 3-year civil war More

Tennessee Songbirds Fly Coop Long Before Tornadoes Arrive

Researchers say birds apparently alerted to danger by sounds at frequencies below range of human hearing More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid