French Court Throws out ‘Hate Crime’ Charges Against Marine Le Pen over Islamic State Pictures

President of the French far-right Front National (FN) party and MP Marine Le Pen gives a press conference to present a counter-proposal for a referendum on ecology, ahead of a session of the National Assembly on changing the constitution to include a commitment to fight against climate change and for …
ALAIN JOCARD/AFP via Getty Images

The Nanterre Correctional Court has thrown out charges against populist MP Marine Le Pen and MEP Gilbert Collard after the pair posted images of Islamic State abuses on Twitter in 2015.

The Nanterre court ruled on Tuesday that the publication of the images by Ms Le Pen and Mr Collard was “part of a political protest process and contributes to public debate” and rejected the prosecutor’s demand for the pair to be fined €5,000 (£4,314/$5,995).

The court also noted that the two politicians were not endorsing the acts by the terror group as the images were accompanied by commentary and stated the pair had the right to freedom of expression, Le Figaro reports.

In February, Le Pen, who leads the National Rally (RN), denounced the proceedings as a “political trial”.

The two politicians had posted the images in 2015 in response to French journalist Jean-Jacques Bourdin comparing the Front National, which was later rebranded to the National Rally, to the Islamic State, a comparison Collard and Le Pen called “unacceptable” at the time.

During the February hearing, Collard, a Member of European Parliament, defended the posts, saying that if a Holocaust denier confronted him, he should be able to show them evidence in the form of pictures, adding: “If I am facing someone who denies violence against women, can’t I show pictures?”

The Nanterre court ruling marks the end of a years-long case against the two populist politicians that saw Le Pen stripped of her parliamentary immunity in 2017, when she was an MEP, with the pair initially threatened with prison sentences of up to three years and a €75,000 (£64,733/$89,927) fine.

Their victory also comes as polls ahead of next year’s French presidential elections have favoured Ms Le Pen to reach the second round of the vote, meaning she could face current President Emmanuel Macron for a rematch of the 2017 election.

A study from the Jean-Jaurès Foundation released last month outlined the possible scenarios that could lead to Le Pen winning the second round and becoming the next French president, including hatred of Macron and voter abstention.

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