MEPs have lifted parliamentary immunity for French far-right leader Marine Le Pen, the outspoken politician who is expected to face criminal charges over racist remarks. EURACTIV France reports.
In a secret vote, the European Parliament’s legal committee backed the recommendation to remove immunity for Le Pen, ahead of a vote in plenary expected on 3 July.
Le Pen is facing possible prosecution for comparing Islamic immigration in France to the ‘Nazi occupation.’
At a political rally in December 2010, she said Muslims were praying in the streets of France where there were no mosques. "For those who like to talk about World War II, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory," Le Pen told the rally. "There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people."
Her father and predecessor as National Front president, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was convicted for making racist comments and was stripped of his immunity for having denied the Holocaust in 1998.
“Marine Le Pen is an extremist right-wing politician who has campaigned fervently against the EU, but who now wants the EU to protect her from her own country’s prosecuting system,” said Sajjad Karim, a British Tory MEP on the parliament's legal affairs committee.
"There is a red line between freedom of speech and inciting racial hatred," he said. "Using Nazi occupation in France as a comparison to Muslims praying on the street is appalling, insulting and highly inflammatory on so many levels.”
"Her remarks do the complete opposite of trying to forge a social fabric of peace, understanding and respect," Karim said.