French far-right leader Le Pen on trial for breaking hate speech laws

WION Web Team
Paris, France Published: Feb 10, 2021, 05.56 PM(IST)

A file photo of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Le Pen shared the gruesome images in December 2015, a few weeks after Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people in Paris attacks, in response to a journalist, who drew a comparison between IS and her party

Charged with breaking hate speech laws by tweeting pictures of Islamic State atrocities, French far-right leader Marine Le Pen goes on trial on Wednesday. She has slammed the case as a violation of free speech. 

The trial comes as opinion polls show Le Pen will likely face off again against Emmanuel Macron in next year's presidential contest, after her National Rally made its strongest showing ever in the 2017 vote. 

Le Pen shared the gruesome images in December 2015, a few weeks after Islamic State group jihadists killed 130 people in Paris attacks, in response to a journalist, who drew a comparison between IS and her party. 

One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by the Islamist militants. 

Another showed a man in an orange jumpsuit being run over by a tank, and the third a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage. 

"Daesh is this!" Le Pen wrote in a caption, using an Arabic acronym for IS. 

Le Pen later deleted the picture of Foley after a request from his family, saying she had been unaware of his identity. 

In 2018, a judge charged her as well as Gilbert Collard, a National Rally colleague, who also tweeted the pictures, with circulating "violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity" and that can be viewed by a minor. 

A trial was ordered last year but was delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of 75,000 euros ($90,000). 

Le Pen, a lawyer by training, has said she is the victim of a political witch-hunt -- she refused an order to undergo psychiatric tests as part of the inquiry. 

She was also stripped of her parliamentary immunity over the pictures.

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