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Jewish radio cancels Marine Le Pen invite

Reuters/Vincent Kessler

A Jewish radio station has cancelled an interview with France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen after the proposal caused uproar in the Jewish community. Le Pen’s Front National (FN) says that it will sue two organisations who opposed the broadcast for libel.

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As opinion polls show Le Pen ahead of President Nicolas Sarkozy and any possible Socialist candidate for the country’s presidency, Radio J has scrapped an invitation to appear on its Forum broadcast next Sunday.

The show’s host, Frédéric Haziza, said the decision was taken because it was impossible to hold the interview in “good conditions”.

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FN vice-president, Louis Aliot, told the AFP news agency that the party will lodge cases for slander and libel against the Jewish students’ association, UEJF, and the anti-Semitism watchdog BNCVA.

The UEJF reacted to the invitation by declaring that, despite Le Pen taking over the leadership from her father, Jean-Marie, the party remains “structurally anti-Semitic, racist and outside the republican camp”, while the BCVA declared that it has “not shown” that it is part of the French political mainstream.

The far-right party judges these charges “anti-democratic, slanderous and libellous”.

The largest Jewish community group, the Crif, also opposed the invitation, claiming that it gave Le Pen the “stamp of respectability”.

Sarkozy is trying to calm nerves in his UMP party after two polls showed Le Pen’s popularity rising, according to senators who attended a meeting with him Wednesday.

He pointed out that the presidential election is 14 months away, they told the press, and emphasised the reported drop in support for possible Socialist candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

And Prime Minister François Fillon distanced himself from remarks by UMP MP Chantal Brunel, who called for “immigrants from the Mediterranean” to be put “back in the boats” in an apparent reaction to the polls.

“I think the speaker herself regrets [the remark],” Fillon told the National Assembly.

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