Le Pen Loses Immunity in Islamic State Picture Issue
The leader of the National Front Party in France, Marine Le Pen, had her legal immunity lifted on Wednesday, November 8, 2017.
The decision was made by a committee in charge of the internal functioning of the French National Assembly, of which she is a member; it includes members of multiple political parties. The authorities had sought the move due to Le Pen having tweeted pictures of Islamic State murders back in 2015, a crime which carries a prison sentence of up to three years.
The three pictures showed various atrocities being committed by the terrorist group, including the body of James Foley, an American journalist whom Islamic State had decapitated.
"Daesh is THIS!" Le Pen had written with the pictures. "Daesh" is an alternate name for the group based on its Arabic acronym.
Foley's family and other took offense at Le Pen's tweet, and she later deleted his picture, saying that she had not been aware that it was Foley's body.
Under French law, Le Pen could be found liable for the distribution of violent images, on the grounds that they could be used to incite more violence. However, at the time of the tweet she was a member of the European Parliament and thus had immunity from prosecution.
The European Parliament voted to remove her immunity in March, but within three months she was elected to the French Parliament, which has similar rules. However, this new National Assembly decision makes her vulnerable again.
Le Pen's political party, the National Front, is considered to be on the far right and has been gaining prominence through the years, even as it becomes more controversial. It is against immigration into France and opposes the powers of the European Union.
This year Le Pen become popular enough to advance to the last round of the presidential election. While a formidable opponent until near the end, she floundered in the final debate against En March candidate Emmanuel Macron, who beat her with 66.1 percent of the vote compared to her 33.9 percent. The election was also a disappointment for her party, which won only eight seats among the 577 in the parliament.
The party has been suffering more problems since, as tensions mounted between the anti-immigration and anti-EU factions. This came to a head when Florian Philippot—Le Pen's right-hand man and the author of her unpopular vow to leave the Eurozone—resigned.
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