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French far-right leader Le Pen may lose immunity from prosecution

 
 
 
 
 
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Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s National Front

A European parliamentary committee has voted in favor of lifting immunity from prosecution for France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, paving the way for prosecutors to file criminal charges against her for “inciting racism”.

European officials said on Saturday the immunity was “unanimously” annulled in a secret ballot this week, and the European Parliament was expected to ratify it later this month.

The French Justice Ministry asked the parliament in 2012 to cancel the National Front leader’s immunity in order for authorities to prosecute Le Pen.

French prosecutors opened a preliminary investigation in January 2011 for incitement to racial hatred after an anti-racism organization filed a complaint against Le Pen for her comments at a rally.

During the 2010 party rally while she was vice president, Le Pen compared Muslims praying on French streets to the Nazi occupation of the country during World War II.

Her comments caused anger among many sections of the public at the time.

It is estimated that nearly 10 percent of France’s population are Muslim immigrants.

The large population group has been hit with restrictions as France has enforced laws directed to Muslims, including ban on street prayers as well as being the first EU country to forbid face-covering veils in public.

Marine Le Pen took over as president of the National Front in 2011 from her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.

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