NATIONAL Front president Jean-Marie Le Pen has been acquitted of racism charges by a Paris court over a campaign poster.
Titled “No to Islamism”, the poster showed a burqa-clad woman beside a map of France and the Algerian flag covered with minarets/missiles. It was put out by the National Front’s youth wing in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) and on three internet sites.
However, the court ruled that Le Pen was neither the author of the poster nor the person responsible for the three internet sites, so there was no case to answer.
Anti-racism group SOS Racism had brought the charge, accusing Le Pen of inciting racial hatred in the run-up to the March regional elections in PACA. He faced a fine of €20,000 if convicted.
The prosecution has 10 days to appeal and SOS Racism said it would wait for that decision before deciding its next move, although it wanted a real debate on what the poster stood for.
National Front vice-president Marine Le Pen said it was a shame that the court had decided not to look deeper into the case, because the poster showed the debate in France about the dangers of Islamism.
She said she backed the aims of the poster, adding: “I find it amazing that we arm our young soldiers and send them to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan, yet we forbid political leaders to confront the Taliban and Islamists with words in France.”