France’s far right National Front has chosen Marine Le Pen as its new leader, replacing her father Jean-Marie Le Pen, party officials say. The results will be officially announced on January 16, but party sources said she had secured about two-thirds of members’ votes. Mr Le Pen is stepping down after leading the ultra-nationalist party, which he founded, for almost 40 years.
The FN, with its anti-immigration agenda has been shunned by France’s main parties. But Ms Le Pen has said she wants to break with its xenophobic, anti-Islam image and is confident the FN can become part of mainstream politics. A recent poll suggested the party could come third in the presidential elections to be held in 2012.
The National Front has been ordered to remove its “No to Islamism” posters distributed by the youth movement of the French political party because they were deemed “provocative of a sentiment of rejection and animosity” and aimed at “youth who are easily influenced”. The National Front must remove all traces of the posters within 24 hours of the judgment, with a fine of 500 Euros per day of delay.
Upcoming French regional elections are marked by a particularly incendiary campaign poster that targets the so-called “Islamization” of France. Ahead of the first round of French regional elections, much of the talk on the airwaves is about the drubbing President Nicolas Sarkozy’s ruling UMP party is expected to receive in the polls. But the far-right National Front party has also managed to cause debate – with a new campaign poster featuring the Algerian flag, a veiled woman, and half a dozen minarets shooting out of a map of France. The tagline – “No to Islamism” – apparently targets extreme manifestations of the Muslim religion.
In a recent campaign speech, the National Front’s 81-year-old leader, Jean-Marie Le Pen, denounced mosques that were “growing like mushrooms” in France. Le Pen said the poster was not against Islam and Algeria but against Islamism – and the fact French youth of North African-origin do not appear to be patriotic. The Algerian government has protested against the campaign poster – as has a Swiss advertising agency, which claims the National Front plagiarized from its campaign for a minaret ban in Switzerland. Rights and anti-discrimination groups like SOS Racisme and the Representative Council of Black Associations have also expressed outrage.
Several commentators have noted the similarity of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s National Front posters against Islamism in France to those in the anti-minaret campaign in Switzerland in November 2009. Please see the article to compare the images.