Marine Le Pen on trial for comments about Muslims

France’s National Front party leader compared street prayers to Nazi occupation

France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen leaves a  court in Lyon. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

France’s National Front leader Marine Le Pen leaves a court in Lyon. Photograph: Philippe Desmazes/AFP/Getty Images

 

France’s far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said the French government was using the judiciary to persecute her as she went on trial for comparing Muslim street prayers to Nazi occupation.

Ms Le Pen, who polls say is likely to win a regional election in December, has tried to broaden the party’s appeal since she took over in 2011 from her father and party founder Jean-Marie.

Jean-Marie has been convicted several times of inciting racial hatred and his daughter has made efforts to distance herself from him.

However, at a gathering in 2010, Ms Le Pen - whose party thrives on concerns over immigration and radical Islam - criticised the practice of Muslims praying in the streets when mosques are full.

Ms Le Pen said: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War Two, if we’re talking about occupation, we could talk about [street prayers], because that is clearly an occupation of the territory.

“It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation.

“There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people,” she said.

Charges

Ms Le Pen was charged with “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs” .

On Tuesday, she said that street prayers were illegal and “sought to impose religious law” in France, but did not repeat the comparison with Nazi occupation.

“We are just a month ahead of the regional elections and this case is five-years-old. Couldn’t it wait another month?” she said to reporters as she arrived at the tribunal.

The case has had many twists and turns and had initially been put aside by judges in December, but anti-racism groups filed a new complaint.

It was unclear when a ruling would be made.

Reuters