Front National candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen suggested this week that France’s immigration problems could be “solved in three months” by “Monsieur Ebola,” suggesting that an outbreak of the deadly disease would reduce the immigrant population in the country.
According to the UK Telegraph, the candidate for European Parliament made the comments “during an exchange with French journalists” in Marseille before a rally with his daughter, Front National leader Marine Le Pen. “There is a demographic explosion in the world and a risk of submersion. A replacement of (the national population) is under way… Monsieur Ebola can solve the problem in three months,” he said. The Telegraph notes that, in his remarks at the event later, he said immigration was “‘made worse’ in France by the fact that most immigrants were Muslim, ‘a religion whose aim is to conquer.'”
The Agence-France Presse notes that the elder Le Pen has since explained that his comments were only “an observation.” “I do not wish to see people die – I am a political observer!” he said on the French program Le Nouvelle Edition.
The comments arrive during an election season in which Marine Le Pen has made it a priority to emphasize the patriotic and anti-big government principles of her party, founded by the elder Le Pen, while disowning its reputation for discriminatory political beliefs. In an interview with the Financial Times, the younger Le Pen described her beliefs as demanding “the right of the French to rule themselves, to protect our identity, our culture, our values, our way of life. I demand the right to be proud of my country – to be a patriot, like the Americans.” She added that she saw a way to evolve the party purely from her own experience: “What probably changed the party more than anything else was myself. The fact that I am a woman, less young than I was but still a little bit, made the stigmatisation we suffered from anachronistic.”
The elder Le Pen is on the ballot for the European Parliament elections. French voters go to the polls on Sunday.