AN ALLEGEDLY anti-semitic comment by Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder of France’s Front National, sparked outrage on Sunday, even from within his party.
The party’s current president - Mr Le Pen’s daughter, Marine Le Pen - distanced herself from her father’s opinions, which were posted on a video on the Front National’s website.
The video was rapidly removed as the scandal erupted, but has been aired on French news bulletins.
In it, Mr Le Pen criticised a number of FN critics, including pop star Madonna and Yannick Noah.
When reminded of another, the singer Patrick Bruel, who is Jewish, Mr Le Pen said he, “would be part of “a batch we will get next time.”
But he used the French word “fournee” for ‘batch’, which anti-racism groups say is a reference to the furnaces used by the Nazis to dispose of their victims.
Louis Aliot, Marine Le Pen’s partner and deputy leader of the Front National, quickly condemned Mr Le Pen’s comment as “politically stupid and distressing”.
Gilbert Collard, one of the Front National’s two MPs, urged Mr Le Pen, 85, who is an MEP and the party’s honorary president, to retire.
And Ms Le Pen described her father’s comments as “a political mistake”, but insisted that the “meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation”.
She admitted, however, that the Front National is suffering the consequences of Mr Le Pen’s comments.
Mr Le Pen, however, denied any accusations of anti-semitism.
He said: “If there are people in my camp that have interpreted it in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles.
"The word 'fournee' that I used obviously has no anti-Semitic connotation, except for political enemies or idiots."
French anti-racism organisation SOS Racisme has said it is planning to sue Mr Le Pen, who has a string of convictions for racism, inciting racial hatred and denying or minimising the Holocaust, which are crimes in France.