Veteran French far-right leader Le Pen on trial for hate speech

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The trial opened on Wednesday of Jean-Marie Le Pen, 93, founder of France's far-right Front National party (now renamed Rassemblement National), for an anti-Semitic jibe he made in an online video targeting French Jewish singer Patrick Bruel.

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The 93-year-old founder of France's main far-right party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, goes on trial Wednesday over allegations of once again inciting racial hatred, this time with comments targeting a Jewish pop singer, reports FRANCE 24.

He already has a string of hate speech convictions that eventually became too much for his daughter Marine Le Pen, who expelled him from the National Front's leadership in 2015 in a bid to achieve mainstream respectability.

Le Pen senior, however, has continued to relish the outrage prompted by his statements regarding Jews, Muslims, black people and immigrants.

The latest trial stems from a 2014 video on the party's website in which Le Pen railed against artists who denounced his extremist stances, including Madonna and the French tennis star-turned-singer Yannick Noah.

Asked about the French singer and actor Patrick Bruel, Le Pen referred to his Jewish origins with a pun evoking the Holocaust – "I'm not surprised. Listen, next time we'll do a whole oven batch!"

The taunt sparked a torrent of indignation including from leaders of his own party, with Marine Le Pen criticising what she called a "political error".

Jean-Marie claimed the comments carried no anti-Semitic connotations "except for my political enemies or imbeciles".

He does not intend to appear in person at the trial in Paris, where he is charged with inciting anti-Semitic hatred, according to associates.

"This case is based only on part of a phrase taken out of context," said his lawyer Frédéric Joachim, who will seek to have the charge dismissed.

Read more of this AFP report published by FRANCE 24.

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