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Madonna waters down anti-Le Pen message, backs Pussy Riot in Nice

Reuters/Eric Gaillard

Madonna scaled down her challenge to far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen but beefed up support for Russian punk protesters Pussy Riot at a concert in Nice, the last of her European tour.

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“Free Pussy Riot!” was the Queen of Pop’s unequivocal message during the show in the southern French city on Tuesday night, repeating a message she shouted from the stage in Moscow two weeks ago.

"I've seen some very scary things," the star told the Nice crowd, slamming "intolerance" and calling for the respect of "human dignity".

"The real deal is freedom and not just for Pussy Riot," she said, adding later, "Every human being deserves to be treated equally.

"We have to be freedom fighters."

But, when it came to the controversial video that accompanies her song Nobody knows me, the swastika that appeared on Le Pen’s forehead when she played Tel Aviv and Paris was replaced by a question mark.

Parliamentary elections 2012

The Front National, which has been trying to revamp its image since changing its leader, has pressed charges against Madonna over the video, claiming that the insinuation that Le Pen is a Nazi is slanderous.

Local party official Gael Nofri claimed Madonna's decision was a climbdown.

"As far as I know, Madonna has never changed a video clip. This is proof that our arguments were valid," he said. “This is excellent news.”

Following complaints that her last concert in Paris was too short, fans in Nice were brimming with enthusiasm when they talked to TV reporters at the end of Tuesday’s show.

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