Marine Le Pen defended Wednesday her “freedom of expression and information” before the criminal court of Nanterre in France. She is on trial there for posting photos of Islamic State (IS) abuses on social media in 2015.
The prosecution requested a 5,000 euros fine against the president of the National Rally (RN). This trial comes 15 months before the presidential election in France, for which Marine Le Pen is a candidate. Already a finalist against Emmanuel Macron in 2017, she is in the lead, neck and neck with the latter according to some polls.
Ms. Le Pen is on trial before the Criminal Court of Nanterre, near Paris, for disseminating photos from ISIS propaganda on social networks on December 16, 2015. In response to French journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin, who ‘she accused of having “drawn a parallel” between the IS and the National Front (renamed since National Assembly) during a program, Marine Le Pen had relayed three photos of abuses of the jihadist group by adding the words : “Daesh, that’s it!”.
The photos showed a crushed Syrian soldier alive under the tracks of a tank, a Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage and the decapitated body of American journalist James Foley with his head resting on his back. These publications, a few weeks after the jihadist attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis on November 13, 2015 (130 dead and hundreds injured), immediately raised an outcry within the left – then in the government – as well as the right, and beyond the political world.
“The shock of sores”
“Mr. Bourdin made a comparison between the RN and Daesh saying that there is a ‘community of mind’ between the RN and Daesh,” said Marine Le Pen at the bar, denouncing “a trivialization and a minority inadmissible crimes against humanity (…) which are the fact of this gang of assassins named Daesh “.
Mr. Bourdin had mentioned a “community of mind” between the RN and the IS, around the “identity withdrawal”. “So I recalled directly on Twitter Mr. Bourdin to reason by two tweets”, she said, explaining that she left her community manager the choice of photos, but “take full responsibility”.
The French MEP from RN Gilbert Collard, close to Ms. Le Pen, relayed the same day the photo of a man lying on the ground, his head smashed, with this comment: “Bourdin compares the FN to Daesh: the weight of words and the shock of the sores! “
After three years of investigation, the two politicians are prosecuted together on the basis of an article of the French Penal Code punishing the dissemination of violent messages likely to be seen by a minor: an offense punishable by three years in prison and 75 ‘000 euros fine. The prosecution also requested a fine of 5,000 euros against Gilbert Collard.
“Freedom of expression”
“They had every right to broadcast these images, the problem is to ensure, before the broadcast, that no minor is likely to see or perceive these images”, explained the prosecutor Jean-Pascal Oualid in his requisitions. “Do you consider that these photos violate human dignity?”, Asked the president to the two defendants.
“No,” replied Gilbert Collard, also a lawyer. “If a moron denies the Holocaust, I am perfectly capable of giving him pictures of concentration camps,” he added. “Were you aware that a minor audience is likely to see?” tweets, resumed the president. “I really did not think of that. I thought of the freedom which is mine of expression and information”, replied Marine Le Pen.
“And you were not afraid that these photos have a proselytizing, incentive character?”, Added the president. “For me, these photos are appallingly shocking and therefore they cause disgust, rejection, and not adhesion,” she again defended.
Before entering the courtroom, Marine Le Pen denounced to the press a “political trial” against her movement. The 2022 presidential candidate also assured that she would “republish” these images, if it had to be done again.