A French junior minister has condemned the media coverage of the hospitalisation of former right-wing leader Jean-Marie Le Pen as “uncomfortable”.
Mr Le Pen is the founder and former leader of what was then called Le Front National, a far-right political party, now called Le Rassemblement National, founded by his daughter, Marine Le Pen.
He was hospitalised overnight on Saturday, April 15, with a reported ‘mild heart attack’ and his health condition has been covered in detail by some French media, including reports from his daughter on how he is doing.
Ms Le Pen, who came in second place to Emmanuel Macron in the most recent presidential election, appeared on the Grand Jury TV programme to say that her father was “doing well” and she “thanked all those who have enquired into his health”.
Lorrain de Saint Affrique, Mr Le Pen’s advisor, told the news magazine Le Point that Mr Le Pen’s family and friends were “concerned but calm”. It comes after Mr Le Pen was hospitalised in February 2022 with a “minor stroke”.
But Junior Minister for Ecology Bérangère Couillard called the focus on Mr Le Pen’s health “uncomfortable” (she used the word “malaisainte”, which can translate as ‘uncomfortable’, ‘awkward’, or ‘unpleasant’).
Writing on Twitter, she referred to Mr Le Pen’s chequered history.
She said: “A man convicted more than 25 times for glorifying war crimes, inciting hatred and discrimination, and anti-Semitism, including despicable remarks about the gas chambers described as a 'detail'.”
Cette attention toute particulière pour Jean-Marie Le Pen est malaisante.— Bérangère Couillard (@BCouillard33) April 16, 2023
Un homme condamné + de 25 fois pour apologie de crimes de guerre, provocations à la haine et à la discrimination, antisémitisme dont des propos abjects sur les chambres à gaz décrites comme un "détail". https://t.co/Uyl4HF8eBm
Mr Le Pen has previously been cited as describing the Nazi gas chambers as “a point of detail in history”, talking about the “inequality of races”, and saying that the Nazi occupation in France was “not particularly inhumane”.
The former leader was definitively excluded from the then-Front National in 2015.
In 2002 he shocked much of France by making it to the second round of that year’s presidential elections when he came second to eventual winner Jacques Chirac.
He was known for his far-right-wing views and for anti-immigration sentiment, and became France’s youngest MP, aged 27, in 1956.