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Immunity lifted for Le Pen to face charges on inciting hatred

Marine Le Pen at the European Parliament
Marine Le Pen at the European Parliament Reuters/Vincent Kessler

 The European Parliament lifted immunity today for French National Front leader Marine Le Pen, giving way now for her to face charges on likening the sight of Muslims praying in the street to Nazi occupation during World War II.

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Just ahead of the vote by lawmakers, Le Pen said she was a “dissident” and that she was confident she would win any trial.

With an overwhelming majority, the European Parliament’s judicial committee voted last month in favour of lifting her immunity. French lawmakers had abstained to avoid any accusations of political leanings.

The far-right leader is being investigated for alleged incitement to racial hatred following remarks she made in a speech to National Front supporters in 2010.

During the speech, she spoke against Muslims praying in the streets of France, saying “For those who like to talk about World War II, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory […] There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people”.

Le Pen was first elected to the European Parliament in 2004. She won 18 percent of the vote in the first round of France’s presidential election in 2012, the party’s highest-ever score.

Members of the European Parliament have immunity from criminal and civil liability for opinions expressed as part of their duty.

However, that immunity has been revoked dozens of times.

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