The European Jewish Congress (EJC) has announced that it is filing a lawsuit against Jean Marie Le Pen, who is the honorary president, former leader and a serving MEP for the French National Front, over a comment that the EJC said “implied a reference to Holocaust concentration camp crematoria” when asked about criticism made by Jewish singer and actor Patrick Bruel.
The EJC called for the stripping of Le Pen’s parliamentary immunity and for prosecution after the video was released, and now it has decided to take direct action against the senior National Front figure who has a history of convictions for anti-Semitism and racism.
“It is vital that there are consequences for these comments, which reflect a history of racism and anti-Semitism by Le Pen which have not received the censure they deserve,” Dr. Moshe Kantor, President of the EJC said. “These comments are incitement against and defamation of the Jewish People and we will take every action to ensure that a message is sent that this is unacceptable discourse.”
French law concerning the media contains a category barring defamation against an ethnic group. Mr. Gilles-William Goldnadel, attorney at law at the Paris bar, has been retained by the EJC to file the lawsuit.
If the court decides against Le Pen he can be censured and fined. This can also lead to a decision to suspend Le Pen's parliamentary immunity.
“The new reality in Europe demonstrated by the recent European Parliamentary electoral gains by far-Right and neo-Nazi parties necessitates taking strong and swift action against hate, intolerance and xenophobia,” Kantor said. “We hope that this lawsuit will send a strong message that there will no longer be immunity for hate and an end to the impunity of incitement against Jews or other ethnic groups among any Europeans, especially by public figures such as politicians.”
"The most anti-Semitic filth"
SOS Racisme denounced as "the most anti-Semitic filth" the pledge by Le Pen to put his critics in their place using a pun suggesting Nazi gas chambers.
The remark was contained in a video clip posted on the FN website and since removed.
In the video, Le Pen railed against a number of critics including pop star Madonna and Yannick Noah, the French singer and former tennis champion.
When asked about another one - French singer Patrick Bruel, who is Jewish - Le Pen said he would be part of "a batch we will get next time," using the word "fournee" for "batch", evoking the word "four" ("oven").
SOS Racisme said it would file a complaint "in the coming days" against Le Pen, whose daughter Marine took over as FN leader in 2011.
Another group, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, also said it would lodge a complaint, calling Jean-Marie Le Pen "an authentic anti-Semite".
Current FN leader Marine Le Pen gave a guarded response, saying that her father had made a "political error" but that the "meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation." FN vice president Louis Aliot, who is also Marine's boyfriend, criticized it as "a bad phrase. It is politically stupid and dismaying." Another FN lawmaker, Gilbert Collard, said it was time for the party founder to "take his retirement". The 85-year-old Le Pen reacted by saying: "If there are people in my camp that have interpreted it in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles," denying any anti-Semitic overtones in the remark.