French presidential election: Marine Le Pen to hold a last meeting in ...
On Sunday, France will go to the polls to vote for who they want to be their next president.
Voters will have to choose between Emmanuel Macron, the centrist candidate and current president fighting for his second term and Marine Le Pen, from the far-right National Rally (Rassemblement National) party who is attempting for the third time to win leadership of the country.
Polls are predicting Macron will win and perhaps that is for the best given Le Pen is a rather controversial candidate indeed, whose stance on issues such as immigration has attracted widespread criticism over the years.
Here's a roundup of her most controversial comments:
1. "The policies that I represent are the policies represented by Trump and Putin"
In a 2017 interview with the BBC, Le Pen criticised former German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s immigration policies toward Syrian refugees, before praising Trump and Putin. She said:
“She [Merkel] let 1.5 million migrants in … She imposes austerity on all the nations in Europe. And, by the way, she’s increasingly isolated, because the policies that I represent are the policies represented by Mr. [Donald] Trump, they’re represented by Mr. [Vladimir] Putin … the British people have just made it clear they want to go in that direction.”
2. Claiming France was not responsible for deporting Jews in WW2
Commenting during the 2017 presidential election about a time in 1942 when France detained 13,000 Jews and transported them to their deaths in Auschwitz, Le Pen controversially distanced France from the incident. She said: “If there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time, it’s not France.”
She added that she wanted France’s children “to be proud to be French again" and was condemned by French Jewish organisations.
Following the criticism, Le Pen later issued a statement saying: “Like Charles de Gaulle and François Mitterrand … [I consider that] France and the Republic were in London during the occupation”. She added that the Nazi-collaborationist Vichy regime “was not France”.
“This does not at all exonerate the actual personal responsibility of those French who took part in the vile Vel d’Hiv round-up and all the atrocities committed in that period,” she said. She went on to accuse her political opponents of exploiting her comments in a “disgraceful” way.
3. "France is a university for jihadists"
In a TV debate in 2017, Le Pen made controversial comments about Islam. She told former prime minister François Fillon: “The policy of the government you led was absolute nonsense. It brought the Islamists to power in Libya, it weakened the integrity of the region — now we have radical Islamism on our soil. France is a university for jihadists.”
4. "The progressive Islamisation of our country is calling into question the survival of our civilisation"
In an interview with the Telegraph in 2010, Le Pen made some more controversial comments about Islam. She said: "The progressive Islamisation of our country and the increase in political-religious demands are calling into question the survival of our civilisation."
5. "No more playtime"
In 2016, Le Pen called for the end of free school for the children of illegal migrants in France.
"If you come to our country, don't expect to be taken care of, to be looked after, that your children will be educated without charge," she said in a speech in Paris. "No more playtime," she added.
6. "The EU is an anti-democratic monster"
Le Pen let rip with her views on the European Union in an interview in 2014. She said: "The EU is deeply harmful, it is an anti-democratic monster. I want to prevent it from becoming fatter, from continuing to breathe, from grabbing everything with its paws and from extending its tentacles into all areas of our legislation. In our glorious history, millions have died to ensure that our country remains free. Today, we are simply allowing our right to self-determination to be stolen from us."
7. Anti-semitism comments
In 2014, Le Pen appeared to blame anti-semitism on Islamism.
She tweeted: "Our Jewish compatriots know it, the #antisémitisme is due to the establishment of Islamism in our country."
"Nos compatriotes juifs le savent, l'#antis\u00e9mitisme est d\u00fb \u00e0 l'implantation de l'islamisme dans notre pays." #BFMPolitique
8. Immigrants will make France "a gigantic no-go zone"
Le Pen spoke about "a flood of immigrants" in an interview with The Times in 2017. She said: “We are being submerged by a flood of immigrants that are sweeping all before them. There are prayers in the street, cafes that ban women and young women who get threatening looks if they wear a skirt. I will say when I become president that this is not the French way. … If we carry on like this, the whole of France will become a gigantic no-go zone. … A multicultural society is a society that has multiple conflicts.”
9. Burqa comments
In a 2017 interview, Le Pen “I’m opposed to wearing headscarves in public places. That’s not France. There’s something I just don’t understand: The people who come to France, why would they want to change France, to live in France the same way they lived back home?”
10. Not having Sikhs in France "is good news"
She also said: “We don’t have a lot of Sikhs in France. We’ve got some. But we don’t really hear much from them or about them. Which is good news.”
11. Muslim "occupation" comments
Speaking about Muslims praying in public during a rally in 2010, Le Pen made a tasteless comparison to wartime occupation.
She said: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about the second world war if we’re talking about occupation, we can also talk about this while we’re at it because this is an occupation of territory.
“It’s an occupation of swaths of territory, of areas in which religious laws apply … for sure, there are no tanks, no soldiers, but it’s an occupation all the same and it weighs on people.”
Four anti-racism and human rights groups brought a case against her on charges of “incitement to discrimination, violence or hatred towards a group of people on the basis of their religion” but she was acquitted.
Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.