The far right leader Marine Le Pen has had her right to immunity from prosecution removed following a vote in the European Parliament yesterday.
She will now face prosecution after she compared Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation of France during a National Front (FN) rally in the French city of Lyon in 2010.
The far right leader of the FN, Le Pen, was accused of ‘incitement to hatred and discrimination’ in 2011 when the chief prosecutor’s office in Lyon opened a case against the MEP.
In the speech she made at the rally, which was broadcast by French media, she said that first France had seen “more and more veils”, then “more and more burkas” and “after that came prayers in the streets… I’m sorry, but some people are very fond of talking about the Second World War and about the occupation, so let’s talk about occupation, because that is what is happening here… There are no tanks, no soldiers, but it is still an occupation, and it weighs on people”.
Responding to the vote yesterday, I told the BBC: “Quite rightly, Marine Le Pen will now face prosecution following today’s vote. It’s taken a long time, but she must now defend her actions in a French court and follow the proper legal procedure which almost nobody else in France has immunity from. She is not above reproach.”
Immunity from prosecution means MEPs are effectively covered from any opinions they express within the parliament and this is written into the European Parliaments rules.
However, the rules clearly state that “immunity cannot be claimed when a member is found in the act of committing an offence and shall not prevent the European Parliament from exercising its right to waive the immunity of one of its members”.