Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far right Front National party, may lose her diplomatic immunity from the European Parliament immunity as a result of comments she made during a 2010 rally in which she compared the obligatory prayers required of Muslim that took place in the street as reminiscent of an “occupation” of French territory. These remarks were reported in BBC News and Yahoo! News, among other media.
Le Pen’s far-right party, running primarily on a platform of anti-immigration platform and opposition to the efforts of the French government to legalize gay marriage, is the third-most popular in the country.
The Business Recorder chronicled the attempts of Nicolas Sarkozy, in his 2012 reelection bid against François Hollande and others, to gain the backing of La Pen and her far-right supporters shortly before Sarkozy faced Socialist frontrunner Hollande in the second-round run-off of the French presidential election.
Le Pen scornfully rejected his bid
When she ran against President Hollande, early opinion polls showed she was the preferred candidate. Her party ended up in third-place in last year’s elections, based in large part by voters concerned about France’s growing Muslim minority.
Her diplomatic immunity as a member of the European Parliament, had previously shielded her from reprisals for comments expressing racism and religious intolerance. But if she loses her immunity, the leader of the far right National Front party could face charges of racism in France. A prosecutor has opened an investigation into the matter.
Jaume Duch Guillot, spokesman for the European Parliament, confirmed that European parliamentary committee, in a secret vote, had overwhelmingly voted to remove her immunity. A final vote is scheduled for June 11, although a correspondent for BBC’s News Europe expressed the opinion that the final vote would be a mere formality.
Reuters reported that after taking control of the National Front, Le Pen focused on expanding the party’s appeal by expelling extremists and suppressing racist and anti-Semitic remarks by party members. And yet at a 2010 rally, she evoked memories of the occupation of France by Germany in the Second World War by characterizing Muslims prayer in the streets as a territorial application of religious law over French law. Le Pen is a lawyer by profession, as well as a right-wing politician.
Now she may subject to criminal prosecution for her unrestricted expressions of hatred.
In 2011, she was elected as the second president of the Front National by nearly 68% (Wikipedia). FN was established by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 1972. Despite her statements of extremism, she has been described as a significantly more democratic than her nationalist father. She is desirous of considerably reducing immigration while her father wants to abolish it. While he seeks a referendum that would reinstate capital punishment, she favors life imprisonment without eligibility for parole. She emulates her father, however, in opposing same-sex marriage and euthanasia.
She also decried the help or the protection of western major powers in maintaining criminal and “neo-colonialist networks of corruption” in Africa (Wikipedia).
And yet, during a demonstration held in 2011, she expressed “firm and absolute opposition” to the right of foreigners to vote (Front National, 8 December 2011, “Against the Right of Foreigners to Vote: Marine Le Pen’s Speech”).
With the loss of diplomatic immunity, her extremist views of immigration and same-sex marriage, among other topics, may land her in jail.