French far right leader loses immunity, faces charges
French far right leader, Marine Le Pen, could face criminal charges for inciting racism, the BBC has learnt.
The French authorities opened a case against Mrs Le Pen in 2011 after she likened the sight of Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France.
As a European Parliament member (MEP), she enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
However, this protection was removed by a European parliamentary committee in a secret vote this week.
Uh, I'm not a lawyer, but isn't there something a little fishy about prosecuting somebody retroactively for what they did even though it was perfectly legal when they did it?
BBC chief political correspondent Gary O'Donoghue says he has been told that the vote to remove her immunity was "overwhelming".
It will need to be ratified by the full parliament, but that's expected to be a formality, our correspondent says. ...
The move clears the way for the French authorities to pursue a case against the leader, who steered her party to a record 18% showing in the first round of last year's presidential election.
So, this is rather like the U.S. government prosecuting Ross Perot, who got 18.7% of the vote in 1992, the next year for campaign statements — if Perot had been a Congressman and had made them on the floor of the House.
Mrs Le Pen made the remarks at a party rally in 2010 in the southern French town of Lyon.
She said that Muslims using the streets to pray because mosques were overflowing was an "occupation" of French territory.
Praying in the streets was banned in Paris in 2011 in response to growing far right protests.
A reader writes:
Talk about naked political bloodsport. They're going to charge her with a retroactive crime for comments she made when she had immunity from prosecution.
Also, notice the BBC finds it worthy to note that this was a widely supported and popular move amongst her fellow MEPs. What does the popularity of a decision have to do with whether it is sound?
The Left is going nuclear against its opponents.
I wonder if these types of tactics actually work or do they transform the targets into Obie-won-Kenobi - strike me down and I shall become stronger.
Her father cultivated a mythos around Joan of Arc, who is (or ought to be) the patron saint of nationalism.