The leader of the French far-right, Marine Le Pen, is suing author Bernard-Henri Levy and Haïm Musicant, the director of Crif, the country’s Jewish umbrella group, for accusing her of antisemitism.
If convicted by the Paris Court of Justice, both Mr Levy and Mr Musicant face a fine of up to 15,000 euros.
Following an attack on three young Jewish men wearing kippot in Villeurbanne in June, Bernhard-Henri Levy, known as BHL, wrote on his website: “Is it really by chance that this aggression happened in the aftermath of a [presidential election] campaign during which one has seen one candidate, Ms Le Pen, systematically boo Jewish-sounding names in her meetings?”
The full article was printed in the newsletter of Crif on June 5.
Ms Le Pen’s lawyer, Wallerand de Saint Just said: “Bernard-Henri Levy and Haïm Musicant have defamed Marine Le Pen by saying that she did something antisemitic, that she booed people because they are Jewish… She is totally opposed to antisemitism.”
Mr de Saint Just said his client also decided to sue Crif’s director because the Jewish organisation is “almost an official state institution which gave Levy’s accusations a large echo”.
The Paris court will hold a preliminary hearing in October at which the date for a full hearing will be fixed. According to Mr de Saint Just, this will not be before June 2013.
Five suspects were briefly detained in the Villeurbanne case. If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of seven years.
Since Muslim terrorist Mohammed Merah killed three children and a rabbi at a Jewish school in Toulouse last March, there have been dozens more antisemitic attacks in France. Almost all of these were carried out by men of African Muslim origin.
Inhabitants of the building where Mohammed Merah was eventually gunned down by the French police have later reported that people come daily to pray in front of the block.
In the same piece on his website alleging that Marine Le Pen booed Jewish names, Bernard-Henri Levy wrote: “All those people, Muslim or not, see themselves avenging the ‘victims of Israel’ by picking on someone wearing a kippah.”
Crif’s president, Richard Prasquier, did not wish to comment on the lawsuit against Bernard-Henri Levy and Haïm Musicant.