• France's news in English

Ex-leader Le Pen makes gas chambers 'pun'

AFP/The Local · 9 Jun 2014, 09:33

Published: 09 Jun 2014 09:33 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

SOS Racisme denounced as "the most anti-Semitic filth" a pledge by the founder of the National Front (FN) party to put his critics in their place using a pun suggesting Nazi gas chambers.

The remark was contained in a video clip posted on the FN website and since removed.

In the video, Le Pen railed against a number of critics including pop star Madonna and Yannick Noah, the French singer and former tennis champion.

When asked about another one -- French singer Patrick Bruel, who is Jewish -- Le Pen said he would be part of "a batch we will get next time," using the word "fournée" for "batch", evoking the word "four", which means "oven".

SOS Racisme said it would file a complaint "in the coming days" against Le Pen, whose daughter Marine took over as FN leader in 2011.

She has sought to rid the party of its reputation for racism and anti-Semitism in recent years, and members were quick to distance themselves from the founder's comment.

FN vice president Louis Aliot, who is also Marine's boyfriend, criticized it as "a bad phrase. It is politically stupid and dismaying."

Another FN lawmaker, Gilbert Collard, said it was time for the party founder to "take his retirement".

But the 85-year-old Le Pen reacted by saying: "If there are people in my camp that have interpreted it in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles."

He denied any anti-Semitic overtones in the remark.  

"The word 'fournee' that I used obviously has no anti-Semitic connotation, except for political enemies or idiots," he said.

His daughter gave a guarded response saying that her father had made a "political error" but that the "meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation."

Story continues below…

Another group, the Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, also said it would lodge a complaint, calling Jean-Marie Le Pen "an authentic anti-Semite".

Le Pen, who has had multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred and denying crimes against humanity, once described Nazi gas chambers as a "detail" of history.

Le Pen has used similar wordplay in the past to make light of gas chambers used by the Nazis in World War II. In 1988, he referred to a Jewish minister named Michel Durafour as "Durafour-crematoire". In French, the word "four-crematoire" means crematorium.

The FN party triumphed in European Parliament elections last month, winning 25 percent of the vote.

AFP/The Local (sophie.inge@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Paris: 'Flying' water taxis to be tested on River Seine
Photo: SeaBubbles

An in Seine idea surely? But tests will go ahead.

France joins fight for rich pickings from post-Brexit UK
Photo: AFP/DcnH/Flickr

France tries to woo EU's bank regulator and other agencies.

How speaking French can really mess up your English
Photo: CollegeDegree360/Flickr

So you've mastered French, but now it's time to learn English all over again.

French claims that Jungle camp is empty are rubbished
Photo: AFP

Reports from the scene say scores of migrants are still in the area of the Jungle despite French authorities claiming "mission fulfilled."

Kidnapped Riviera millionaire left tied up in car boot in Nice
Photo: AFP

Head of luxury Cannes hotel has been found alive after being kidnapped in Nice on Monday.

Paris landlords still charging illegally high rents
Photo: Panoramas/Flickr

... and it's tenants in the smaller apartments that get hit the hardest. Could you be paying too much?

France takes baby steps to make life simpler
Photo: AFP

... including extending the ridiculously short time limit for registering a new baby.

IN PICTURES: Calais Jungle camp goes up in flames
All Photos: AFP

Migrants leave behind a scorched camp as they are moved to locations across France.

French expats in UK suffer Brexit abuse
French ambassador to the UK Sylvie Bermann with Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Photo: AFP

French nationals no longer feel at home in the UK, ambassador says. But Brits in France have been greeted with sympathy since the referendum.

Six to go on trial in France over topless Kate photos
Photo: AFP

The topless pics sparked fury among the royals.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available