Le Pen red faced after backing ‘neo-fascist rally’

Marine Le Pen, always so careful not to associate with the wrong kind of folk, had some explaining to do on Friday after sending a video message to a rally where neo-fascists and anti-Islam campaigners from Pegida were present.

Le Pen red faced after backing 'neo-fascist rally'
Photo: Screengrab YouTube/Matteo Salvini

Le Pen has been desperate to try to clean up the image of the National Front party after it was sullied under the leadership of her father Jean-Marie, who has been convicted of hate speech and who once described the Holocaust as a small detail in history.

But it appears she has let her guard down.

On February 28th Le Pen sent a video message of support to her far-right allies in Italy the Northern League (Lega Nord) who were holding a rally in Rome.

The message was broadcast live to the massed ranks of far-right followers from across Europe, who included supporters of Greece’s Golden Dawn party, considered as a bunch of lawless thugs by many and a party for whom Marine Le Pen has distanced herself from.

Also there were representatives from the German anti-Islam movement Pegida.


“Not having been able to join you in person, I wanted to greet you warmly and to send you this message of support after you turned out in huge numbers in Rome today, to protest against the deadly policies across Europe,” she told the crowd.

“I call on you all to keep confidence and courage and look to the future with a smile and determination, to be proud of ourselves,” she went on.

According to French news site Mediapart members of the crowd held aloft images of Benito Mussolini, the former Italian dictator and Hitler ally, as well as Celtic crosses, a symbol of neo-fascist movements.

Le Pen was not feeling so proud on Friday when questioned about her support in the French press.

She says she was only invited by their allies in the Northern League and is not responsible for the groups present at the rally.

“There was no agreement at all with Pegida nor with the cranks at Golden Dawn,” she said. “If there’s some folk present at a mass rally it is not the responsibility of the organizers.”

Le Pen's party however continues to go from strength to strength prompting the French PM Manuel Valls to suggest the National Front could "kidnap France" at this month's regional elections.

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France’s far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France's far-right National Front party, refused to submit to police questioning last month as part of an EU funding inquiry, claiming immunity as a European Parliament lawmaker, his adviser said Sunday.

France's far-right patriarch refused questioning in EU fraud case

Le Pen is one of several party MEPs suspected of using European Parliament funds provided for assistants to pay more than 20 France-based party staff.

If convicted, the party could be ordered to repay €7 million ($8.2 million), and the judges pre-emptively seized the subsidies.

An EU tribunal has already determined that Le Pen must reimburse €320,000.

But when police from France's anti-corruption squad tried to question him last month at his office just outside Paris, he claimed MEP immunity and ordered them to leave.

“He was prepared to receive them, but they had such arrogant attitudes which Jean-Marie Le Pen refused to accept,” his adviser Lorrain de Saint Affrique told AFP, confirming a report in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper.

Le Pen, 90, sits as an independent after being thrown out of his party by his daughter Marine Le Pen in 2015 for saying the Nazi gas chambers were a mere “detail” of history.

He has also often made disparaging statements against Muslims and Roma which have earned him a string of hate speech convictions.

His daughter has renamed the party the National Rally in an effort to shed its xenophobic and anti-Semitic image.

The EU funding inquiry has led French judges to withhold €2 million of public subsidies for the party, a move which Marine Le Pen has denounced as a “death sentence”.

Without the funds, she warns the party will be bankrupt by September.