Le Pen and daughter split Front National in row over his ‘anti-Semitic joke’: Father accuses her of leading party in a PC direction
- Jean-Marie Le Pen appeared to make comments referring to Nazi gas chambers
- His daughter Marine Le Pen said her father had made a ‘political mistake’
- M Le Pen hit back at his daughter as he criticised stewardship of the party
France’s far-Right Front National (FN) has been convulsed by a family row after founder Jean-Marie Le Pen accused his daughter of leading the party in a politically correct direction.
The fall-out was sparked at the weekend when M Le Pen made a ‘joke’ in which he appeared to suggest that a popular French Jewish singer, Patrick Bruel, should be put into an oven.
Marine Le Pen accused him of making a ‘political mistake’, and said the incident gave her the opportunity ‘to remind people that the FN condemns any form of anti-Semitism in the strongest terms’.
Jean-Marie Le Pen was criticised by Jewish groups and prominent members of his own party over the weekend for the comment made in a video posted on the National Front’s website on Friday
Her father then hit back by attacking Mlle Le Pen, 45, for turning the party into a more mainstream organisation since taking the reins in 2011 – a policy that led to huge success in the recent European elections, when the Front National took first place in France with 25 per cent of the vote.
‘I consider that the serious political error is made by those who align themselves with political correctness,’ the 85-year-old said. ‘They want to be like the other parties.’
M Le Pen had said Bruel would be part of ‘a batch [of critics] we will get next time’ – using the word fournée for batch, evoking the word four which means oven in French.
M Le Pen was re-elected as an MEP in the elections, but this did not stop him making a pun referring to the Nazi gas chambers during World War II.
In a video posted on the FN website, and posted on YouTube, the 85-year-old attacks a number of the party’s critics, including pop star Madonna.
When asked about another – the Jewish singer Patrick Bruel – M Le Pen said he would be part of a ‘batch next time’, while hinting at the word ‘oven’.
Thousands of French Jews were sent to German concentration camps during the war, where most were murdered.
A spokesman for SOS Racism, a leading Paris civil rights group, described M Le Pen’s pun as ‘the worst kind of anti-Semitic filth’.
Marine Le Pen (pictured, right, in 2011) said her father (left) had made a ‘political error’ but that the ‘meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation’
He said the group would file a legal complaint against M Le Pen, who already has numerous convictions for racism and anti-Semitism, this week.
France’s Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, also said it would lodge a complaint, calling M Le Pen ‘an authentic anti-Semite’.
M Le Pen handed over the reins of the FN to his daughter, Marine, in 2011, and she has pledged to soften its image.
When asked about one of his party’s critics – the Jewish singer Patrick Bruel (pictured) – Mr Le Pen said he would be part of a ‘batch next time’, while hinting at the word ‘oven’
Although M Le Pen retains significant influence, and Mlle Le Pen remains very loyal to him, other party members attacked him today.
FN vice-president Louis Aliot, who lives with Mlle Le Pen, said it was ‘a bad phrase’ which was also ‘politically stupid and disappointing’.
Gilbert Collard, an FN-affiliated MP, said it was time for the party founder to ‘accept [M Le Pen’s] retirement’.
Mlle Le Pen said the comment had been misinterpreted, but added that for an experienced politician like her father ‘not to have foreseen how this phrase would be interpreted is a political mistake the Front National is [now] paying for.’
Earlier M Le Pen had said: ‘If there are people in my camp that have interpreted my comments in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles.’
He denied being anti-Jewish, saying the words he used had ‘no anti-Semitic connotation’, except for ‘political enemies or idiots’. He made it clear that the offending video had now been removed from the web.
M Le Pen, who once described the Nazi gas chambers as a ‘detail’ of history, was runner up in the French presidential elections of 2002.