PARIS – Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front (FN), rebuked her father and former party head on Sunday for remarks reviving allegations of anti-Semitism after a major poll victory.
Le Pen, who took over the anti-immigrant and anti-EU party from Jean-Marie Le Pen in 2011, said a quip he made about a Jewish singer that included an implied reference to concentration camp ovens had been misinterpreted.
But for an experienced politician like her father, she said, “not to have foreseen how this phrase would be interpreted is a political mistake the National Front is paying for.”
Le Pen, who has made the FN more acceptable to voters by playing down some of its hard-line traditions, led the party last month to first place in French voting for the European Parliament.
The controversy began on Friday with a video posted on the FN website in which Jean-Marie Le Pen lashed out at several celebrities — including U.S. singer Madonna, French comedian Guy Bedos and tennis star Yannick Noah — for expressing alarm that the party had swept 25 percent of the European Parliament vote.
Reminded by his interviewer that Jewish singer Patrick Bruel was among the critics, Le Pen chuckled and said: “That doesn’t surprise me. Listen, we’ll do up a batch next time.”
Le Pen has often used subtle word play to hint at anti-Semitic views without clearly saying them. His word for “batch” — “fournee” — is a baking term that originally meant “ovenful.”
He was convicted of inciting racial hatred in 1996 for saying the gas chambers used to kill Jews in the Holocaust were “merely a detail in the history of World War II.”
Marine Le Pen told Le Figaro newspaper the incident had a positive side in that “it allows me to reiterate that the National Front most firmly condemns every form of anti-Semitism.”