SUPPORTERS OF Marine Le Pen put up a poster earlier this year. There has been a meteoric rise of right-wing movements in Europe, writes the author..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen on Sunday rejected the notion that France should be held responsible for the wartime corralling of Jews while the country was held under Nazi occupation, according to AFP.
The government has previously apologized for the role French authorities played in the round-up of 13,000 Jews at the Vel d’Hiv cycling track in 1942 at the behest of Nazi officers. The majority of those Jews would later meet their demise at Nazi death camps spread across Europe.
During a press interview with broadcaster LCI television, Le Pen said “I don’t think France is responsible for the Vel d’Hiv.”
“I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it’s those who were in power at the time. It’s not France,” she added.
Le Pen, who leads the far-Right National Front party, is in a close race to succeed current Socialist French President Francois Hollande.
Her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron - who is favored to win the election - described Le Pen's comments as “a serious mistake.”
“Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen,” Macron added.
Le Pen's father, who founded the National Front in 1972 and is estranged from his daughter, has repeatedly been convicted for antisemitic and racist comments, according to AFP.
Jewish organizations including the CRIF umbrella group and the Jewish students’ union (UEJF) quickly condemned Le Pen for the comments, accusing her of broadcasting a "revisionist" version of history.
“These remarks are an insult to France, which honored itself in 1995 by recognizing its responsibility in the deportation of France’s Jews and facing its history without a selective memory,” the CRIF said.
Le Pen later on Sunday defended herself, saying: “I consider that France and the Republic were based in London during the (Nazi) occupation.”
“The Vichy regime was not France,” Le Pen continued, describing the wartime authority as “illegal.”
She added that this in no way exonerated those who participated in “the vile roundup of Vel d’Hiv and all the atrocities committed during that period,” reported AFP.
Le Pen has frequently been criticized for her her controversial political positions in France, mainly centering on social and anti-immigration policy positions
that some say is a source of concern.