Just a another reminder that free speech is not a #EuropeanValue
Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s far-right National Front, has been ordered to stand trial in October on charges of inciting racial hatred. The charges relate to her comments made in 2010 comparing Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France in World War Two. The European Parliament paved the way for her prosecution in 2013 by removing her immunity as an MEP. Ms Le Pen has defended her remarks and called the charges “intimidation”. She will appear in court in Lyon on 20 October, according to French media reports.
Lyon is where, in December 2010, Ms Le Pen told FN supporters that the sight of Muslims praying in the street was similar to the Nazi occupation in World War Two. In her speech, broadcast by French media, she said that France had initially seen “more and more veils”, then “more and more burkas” and “after that came prayers in the streets”.
She said: “I’m sorry, but some people are very fond of talking about the Second World War and about the occupation, so let’s talk about occupation, because that is what is happening here…
“There are no tanks, no soldiers, but it is still an occupation, and it weighs on people.”
An exaggeration? Clearly. Tasteless? Clearly.
But worthy of prosecution? Not in a country that values free speech.
To repeat (once again) the phrase contained in an article in Jyllands-Posten published after the Mohammed cartoons controversy (Jyllands-Posten was the newspaper that first published those cartoons): “Ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed. Der er intet men.”
The translation? “Free speech is free speech is free speech. There is no but.”
In France there is.