PARIS, France — The founder of France’s far-right National Front party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, has been charged with inciting hatred for alleged anti-Semitic remarks in 2014, his lawyer said Saturday.
Frederic Joachim said the remarks by his client had been misinterpreted and his comments cut short.
The situation goes back to June 2014 when Le Pen in a video clip posted on the FN website railed against a number of critics including pop star Madonna and Yannick Noah, the French singer and former tennis champion.
When asked about another critic — French Jewish singer Patrick Bruel — Le Pen said then that he would be part of “a batch we will get next time,” using the word “fournee” for “batch”, evoking the word “four,” which means “oven.”
SOS Racisme called it “the most anti-Semitic filth,” a pledge by the FN founder to put his critics in their place using a pun suggesting Nazi gas chambers.
The remarks were also denounced by the FN and his daughter, Marine Le Pen, who took over the party leadership and is now the FN presidential candidate in this year’s election.
“The word ‘fournee’ that I used has no anti-Semitic connotation, except for political enemies or imbeciles,” Jean-Marie Le Pen responded.
The now 88-year-old former paratrooper, who has had multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity, once described Nazi gas chambers as a “detail” of history.
The European Parliament, of which the elder Le Pen is a member, in late October lifted his parliamentary immunity in the case.
In 2015 Le Pen was booted out of the party he founded for his views on the Nazi gas chambers and for defending France’s collaborationist wartime Vichy regime.
Last November a French court upheld the FN’s decision to strip him of his membership but in a small victory for the elder Le Pen it ruled he should be allowed to remain as the party’s honorary president.