France’s far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said the government was using the judiciary to persecute her as she went on trial for comparing Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation.
Le Pen, who polls say is likely to win a regional election in December, has tried to broaden the party’s appeal since she took over in 2011 from her father.
He was convicted several times of inciting racial hatred and Le Pen has made efforts to distance herself from him.
But in a meeting in 2010, Le Pen criticised Muslims praying in the streets when mosques are full.
She had said: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War Two, if we’re talking about occupation, we could talk about that [street prayers], because that is clearly an occupation of the territory.”
“It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighbourhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people.”
She was charged with “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs” and yesterday, she said street prayers were illegal and “sought to impose religious law” but did not repeat the Nazi comparison.
It was unclear when a ruling would be made.
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