Anti-racism activists vowed Monday to file a criminal complaint against the far-right National Front’s founder Jean-Marie Le Pen after he used an apparently anti-Semitic pun about ovens to dismiss one of his Jewish critics.
In a video clip posted on the French National Front’s website and later removed, cialis Le Pen, prostate 85, order lashed out against several of his critics, including the former tennis champion Yannick Noah and the pop star Madonna. When questioned about the French singer Patrick Bruel, who is Jewish and has been critical of the National Front, Le Pen said: “We’ll include him in the next batch.” In the comment, Le Pen used the French word “fournée,” which refers to a batch of bread to be baked, and was interpreted by his critics to be a reference to crematories at Nazi death camps.
The far-right National Front, which campaigns against immigration and the European Union, received more votes than France’s mainstream parties in recent elections for seats in the European Parliament and has also become a political force in France’s regions. Its leader, Marine Le Pen, who is Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter, has been seeking to rebrand the party as a mainstream organization, in part by distancing herself from the party’s anti-Semitic past. Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has several convictions for inciting racial hatred, has previously described the Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of history.
On Sunday, Marine Le Pen said that her father had made a “political error” in making his latest remarks, even as she told Le Figaro, the French newspaper, that the “meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation.”
On Monday, Jean-Marie Le Pen appeared to chastise his daughter, saying that several leaders of the National Front had seemed to condone “the phantasmagoria evoked by our enemies.”
“It is they who have made a political mistake, not me,” Jean-Marie Le Pen told the French broadcaster RMC.
The comments threatened to widen an intergenerational rift in the National Front, which has been tugged in one direction by hard-liners on the extreme right like Jean-Marie Le Pen and in a different direction by a newer generation under Marine Le Pen’s leadership, which is seeking to give the party a softer image.
Other members of the party were more forthright in criticizing Jean-Marie Le Pen. Louis Aliot, the vice president of the party who is also Marine Le Pen’s boyfriend, told the French media that if Jean-Marie Le Pen had used the word “fournée,” then the comment was “politically stupid” and “dismaying.” Jean-Marie Le Pen said his words had been misinterpreted, and had contained no anti-Semitic connotation.
“If there are people in my camp that have interpreted it in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles,” he told the radio broadcaster France Info.
The outcry over Jean-Marie Le Pen’s comments comes amid growing concerns among France’s 500,000-strong Jewish community about anti-Semitism, fuelled by the rise of the far right as well as by recent episodes of violence against Jews.
The community was shaken earlier this month when it emerged that a man raised in France had been accused of an attack at the Jewish Museum in Brussels in May, which resulted in the deaths of four people and which law enforcement officials have said was motivated by anti-Semitism. Last month, two brothers wearing skullcaps who were leaving a synagogue in Créteil near Paris were beaten by two unknown men with brass knuckles.
Aline Le Bail-Kremer, a spokeswoman for SOS Racisme, an anti-racism group, on Monday denounced Jean-Marie Le Pen’s comments and said that her group would file a criminal complaint against him. “Marine Le Pen calls this a political fault, but this is blatant anti-Semitism and it is scandalous,” she said by phone. “Calling for Jews to be sent to the ovens is not a political mistake. It is an incitement and a moral fault of the highest order.”
Moshe Kantor, the president of the European Jewish Congress, called on the European Union to strip Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is a member of the European Parliament, of his parliamentary immunity. He also called for the French authorities to charge Jean-Marie Le Pen with inciting hatred. “Le Pen has unmasked the true face of the far right of Europe days after their electoral successes in the European Parliament,” he said in a statement. “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.”
Writing on Twitter, Bruel noted that Jean-Marie Le Pen had once again shown his true face and the true face of his party.
By The New York Times