French far-right leader Le Pen appears in court in hate speech trial

French far-right leader Marine Le Pen appears in court on charges she broke hate speech laws by tweeting pictures of Islamic State atrocities, a case she slammed as a politically motivated attempt to silence her.

The trial comes as opinion polls show Le Pen will likely face off again against Emmanuel Macron in next year’s presidential contest, after her National Rally made its strongest showing ever in the 2017 vote.

Le Pen shared the gruesome images in December 2015, a few weeks after Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris, in response to a journalist who drew a comparison between IS and her party.

One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the jihadists

Another showed a man in an orange jumpsuit being run over by a tank, and the third a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

A courtroom sketch made on February 10, 2021 shows leader of far-right Rassemblement National (RN) Marine Le Pen attending a hearing in her trial along with RN Member of Parliament Gilbert Collard for tweeting images of Islamic State group’s atrocities in Nanterre, outside Paris (Benoit PEYRUCQ / AFP)

“Daesh is this!” Le Pen wrote in a caption, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

“I am obviously the victim of a political trial,” Le Pen tells journalists at the courthouse in Nanterre, a Paris suburb.

“The media published them, editorialists, newspapers, TV channels, and nobody was ever prosecuted for doing so — only Marine Le Pen is being prosecuted,” she says.

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