Strasbourg, France, July 2;The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to strip far-right lawmaker Marine Le Pen of her legal immunity so she can be prosecuted in her native France over a remark she made about Muslims in 2010.
Ms. Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front party and a member of the European Parliament since 2004, faces charges of inciting racial hatred for a comment comparing Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi German occupation of Paris during World War II.
The remark led to protests at a Paris mosque, where people had been praying outside due to overcrowding. The conservative government of the day later banned Muslims from praying in the street, after helping to accommodate the overflow.
On Monday, Ms. Le Pen repeated her 2010 comment, shrugging off the threat of a court case.
She said her crime was to have “dared say what the French think, which is that street prayers – which are continuing to take place on French territory – are an occupation.” “I will go to court with my head held high to explain that there have to be people in this country who tell the French the truth,” she told LCI television, arguing she was being pursued for a “thought crime.” If found guilty, she risks a year in prison and a possible 45,000 euros (59,000 dollars) in fines. A conviction for inciting racial hatred would also damage her strategy to rid the National Front of racist associations.
Ms. Le Pen is not aligned with any political group in the parliament.
In 1998, the parliament voted to revoke the immunity of Ms. Le Pen’s father, National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, after he declared that the Holocaust was a “detail” of history. A German court later convicted him of playing down the Holocaust.