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France

Le Pen expels Front National member for Nazi salute

Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

The leader of France’s far-right Front National (FN), Marine Le Pen, is to expel a party election candidate after a photo of him giving the Nazi salute was published on a magazine’s website. And skinheads and young men wearing combat gear will be banned from the party’s annual demonstration to honour Joan of Arc on May Day.

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Le Pen rejected a call by a party committee to merely reprimand 20-year-old Alexandre Gabriac, who represented the party on the Rhone-Alps regional council, pointing out that, as party president, her decision is final.

Gabriac, a candidate in cantonal elections which saw the party do well, claims that the photo, published by the Nouvel Observateur and showing him saluting a swastika flag in the Nazi fashion, was a montage.

And, she told RTL radio, “provocateurs” with shaven heads or combat fatigues will not be allowed on buses taking the party faithful to the Joan of Arc rally in Paris on 1 May.

The ban has been ordered because “we have been victims, and still are sometimes, by the way, of a certain number of provocateurs who come to get cheap publicity”, she said.

In 1995 a young Moroccan, Brahim Bouarram, drowned in the Seine after being chased by four participants in the FN rally.

The decisions come as Le Pen tries to dissociate the party from its past reputation for Nazi sympathies. Her father, Jean-Marie, whom she has succeeded as president, was set to hear Wednesday whether an appeal court upheld a fine and suspended jail sentence passed on him for telling the far-right paper Rivarol that the German occupation of France “was not particularly inhuman”.

Le Pen senior was at last able to announce the “definitive” sale of the party’s former headquarters, which has been on the market for three years.

The FN had to move to smaller premises because of debts incurred because of a poor showing in 2007 parliamentary elections.

The building in the Paris suburb of St Cloud went for about 10 million euros, Le Pen said, admitting that this was lower than offers received when it was first put on sale.

The buyer is French, he said, and owns businesses connected to health and retirement.

The sale should allow the party to borrow money for Marine Le Pen’s bid for the country’s presidency in 2012.

 

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