Le Pen angry as her father jokes of putting opponents in ovens

By Shirli Sitbon, June 12, 2014
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Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen

National Front leader Marine Le Pen has criticised her father and party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen after he made a controversial quip in an interview suggesting artists who oppose the National Front should be put in an oven.

In the interview, posted on the party's website, Mr Le Pen was asked about several stars who had expressed concern at the National Front's success in last month's European elections, including singer Patrick Bruel. Mr Le Pen replied: "That doesn't surprise me. Listen, we'll do up an oven load next time."

The comment triggered immediate outrage with critics saying it was an implied reference to the death camps.

Jewish umbrella group Crif called for condemnation of Mr Le Pen's comments. A statement read: "Crif calls on all of our country's democrats to firmly condemn these antisemitic, racist and heinous comments made by the National Front's honorary president."

Jean Marie Le Pen

Jean Marie Le Pen

Marine Le Pen, who has struggled to make the party appear more acceptable to voters since she took the helm in 2011, also rebuked her father.

"For an experienced politician like him not to have foreseen how this phrase would be maliciously interpreted is a political mistake," said Ms Le Pen.

Far from being comforted by these words, the Jewish student group UEJF said Le Pen was in fact justifying her father's antisemitic jibe: "She says her father has committed a 'political mistake'. Marine Le Pen has therefore not condemned what her father has said and appears as to be an accomplice of his violently antisemitic assertions."

The UEJF added it intended to sue both father and daughter for what it called "this openly antisemitic declaration".

As the controversy developed, Marine Le Pen decided on Tuesday that she would cancel her father's weekly video blog on the National Front website.

Mr Le Pen reacted angrily on French media, saying his daughter "stabbed him in the back". He also attacked the party's vice-president Louis Aliot who said the phrase was "politically stupid and deplorable".

Mr Le Pen added that he had no plans to step down as an MEP.

As the party's leadership distanced itself from Jean-Marie Le Pen, Patrick Bruel, one of the stars at the heart of the controversy, reacted on Twitter and Facebook to the comments which had been made.

"This doesn't hurt me. This man's provocations and paranoia have stopped hurting me a long time ago. He has just shown us once again his true face, and the true face of the National Front," wrote Mr Bruel.

He added: "I'm just sad in the memory of six million people."

Mr Le Pen had made similar comments in the past. He was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1991 for saying the gas chambers used in the Holocaust were "merely a detail in World War II history".

Last updated: 1:54pm, June 12 2014