The founder of France’s far-right National Front political party, Jean-Marie Le Pen, was suspended from the party over comments he made trivializing the Holocaust’s gas chambers. The suspension is part of an effort by his daughter and the party’s current leader, Marine Le Pen, to distance National Front from its anti-Semitic history.
The elder Le Pen, 86, has repeatedly stated that the Nazi gas chambers were merely “a detail of history” and that he wants to defend the “white world.” He has also praised France’s leader during World War II, Philippe Petain, despite his capitulation to the Nazis.
Le Pen’s daughter called her father’s comments “political suicide” and ordered a disciplinary meeting, in which the elderly leader’s membership in the party was suspended. In the wake of the suspension, the senior Le Pen disavowed his relationship with his daughter and called her decision a “criminal act,” AFP reported.
“I am ashamed that the president of the National Front has my name,” Jean-Marie Le Pen told the Europe 1 radio station on Tuesday.
“These [disciplinary] decisions show how far Marine Le Pen is ready to go to improve the image of her party,” said Jonathan Walsh of the France 24 broadcaster, who reported on the decision from the headquarters of the National Front.
A survey released by the French marketing firm IFOP in September 2014 showed that 13.5 percent of French Jews supported the far-right party in the 2012 presidential election.
“The increase of FN (National Front) votes among the Jewish voters is explained by the strategy of de-demonization led by the party, the absence of bad references to the Holocaust… and especially the growing concern in part of the Jewish community about the rise of Islamic anti-Semitism vis-à-vis of which the FN presents itself as a bulwark,” said Jerome Fourquet, director of public opinion for IFOP, according to the International Business Times.