French officials have requested that the European Parliament revoke Marine Le Pen’s legal immunity over anti-Muslim remarks she made in 2010.
Authorities in the city of Lyon are seeking the prosecution of Ms Le Pen, head of the Front National (FN), over her comparison of Islamic prayers to the Nazi occupation of France in a speech two years ago. An estimated 567,000 French citizens died during the Second World War.
Ms Le Pen, an MEP since 2004, has legal immunity due to her position as a member of the European Parliament. Officials in Lyon hope to prosecute her for “inciting racial hatred”.
In the 2010 speech, Ms Le Pen heavily criticised the presence of Muslim prayer services on the streets of France, a common sight due to overcrowding in mosques.
She allegedly said in the speech: “For those who like to talk about World War II, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory.
“This is an occupation of parts of our territory… There are no armoured vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same and it weighs on people.”
Under Ms Le Pen’s leadership, the FN has made attempts to court Jewish voters, a marked change from the virulent antisemitism of the party under her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Ms Le Pen seemed unbothered by the attempt to revoke her immunity, deeming it “traditional practice” at the start of an inquiry.
The European Parliament confirmed that it had received the request, and that a committee would review it.