Leader of France’s National Front and finalist in the nation’s 2017 Presidential Election Marine Le Pen has been charged over posting images of ISIS violence in 2015.
The images included the body of James Foley, an American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS. There was one of a man in an orange jumpsuit being driven over by a tank and another man being burned alive in a cage. She removed the image of Foley after objections from his parents.
Le Pen is being charged with circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity”. The offence is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($177,000).
Le Pen tweeted the images shortly after the 2015 Paris terror offensive which killed 130 people under the caption “Daesh is this!” Le Pen is only being charged now because her parliamentary immunity was removed by lawmakers last November, this allowed a judge to have her charged yesterday. Another National Front MP Gilbert Collard was charged using the same mechanism in September last year.
Le Pen was unrepentant about sharing the images telling news agency AFP “I am being charged for having condemned the horrors of Daesh,” highlighting also that “In other countries this would have earned me a medal.”
The National Front has its annual conference next week where Le Pen is expected to propose a new name for the party as part of her continual strategy to modernise the party.
Despite being viewed as a figure of the nationalist resurgence in Europe her modernisation project is resented by many in her party and even within her own family with her niece Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, 28 being viewed as the future leader France needs.
Despite being elected and sold to the world as the type of leader the 21st century needs President Emmanuel Macron’s popularity has sunk is his first year with his disapproval rating reaching a high of 58% last month. Despite its loss in 2017 the National Front is still the second most popular party which is why the battle for its identity and the prosecution of two of its MPs with the approval of the nation’s parliament represent a critical time for the future of France.