Court upholds Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Holocaust denial conviction

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Court upholds Jean-Marie Le Pen’s Holocaust denial conviction

Paris-based judge rules that veteran far-right leader's downplaying of the Shoah was against the law

Jean-Marie Le Pen
Jean-Marie Le Pen

A French court upheld the Holocaust denial conviction of the far-right activist Jean-Marie Le Pen, while a different tribunal acquitted another prominent racist of hate incitement charges.

The Paris-based Court of Cassation’s ruled Tuesday against Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party. He was convicted multiple times for incitement to racist hatred against Jews over his 2015 statement that the Holocaust was “a detail” of World War II.

Downplaying or denying genocides is illegal in France. Le Pen must pay more than £21,000 ($30,000) in fines for the remark, Le Monde reported. He was expelled from the National Front by its current leader, his daughter Marine Le Pen.

Separately, the Paris Correctional Tribunal last week acquitted Alain Soral, who also has multiple convictions for hate speech against Jews and Holocaust denial, on charges stemming from his posting of a caricature suggesting that President Emmanuel Macron is being controlled by Jews.

The drawing shared online by Soral depicts Macron wearing a Nazi-like armband with a dollar sign and three well-known European Jews – the French economist Jacques Attali, entrepreneur Patrick Drahi and the British banking magnate Jacob Rothschild — towering in the background while flanked by Israeli and American flags.

Soral is a co-founder, along with the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, of the Anti-Zionist Party.

The National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism and the Union of Jewish Students in France, or UEJF, filed police complaints last year against a Socialist lawmaker, Gerard Filoche, for alleged incitement to racist hatred over his reposting of the caricature.

Manuel Valls, a former prime minister of France and senior member of the Socialist Party, called the image “anti-Semitic.”

But the judges cleared Soral of hate crime charges because the three men depicted in the image “do not project on the Jewish community as a whole,” they wrote in the verdict, which the AFP news agency obtained.

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