Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National and a contender in France’s presidential elections next year, will not receive special treatment when she visits the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Le Pen, the daughter of Jean Marie Le Pen, the founder of the party who has a conviction for Holocaust denial, said in a statement that she would go to the museum during a Washington visit this week. Museum spokesman Andrew Hollinger told JTA that the museum had no formal notice of her arrival, and that she would be treated as any other visitor.
“If she comes to the Museum, Ms. Le Pen will not be given any special tours or treatment while she is here,” he said. “She will be a Museum visitor.”
The Holocaust Museum endured controversies in 1993 for inviting to an inaugural ceremony Franjo Tudjman, the Croatian leader who had denied the extent of the atrocities carried out by Nazis and their sympathizers; and in 1998, when it refused special treatment for Yasser Arafat, the late Palestinian leader.
The younger Le Pen has tried to erase some her party’s associations with extremism and Holocaust denial, and her announcement of her visit said she “stands with the nation of Israel and strongly repudiates Neo-Nazism, radical jihadists, and other efforts that deny Israel’s right to exist and thrive.”
French Jews, however, still perceive the party and some of the anti-Muslim rhetoric it peddles as dangerous.
French presidential candidates shore up U.S. bona fides ahead of their campaigns to demonstrate influence with the world’s largest superpower.
European reports have said that Le Pen has been frustrated in her attempts to set up meetings in Washington; her announcement lists meetings only with Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), both outliers in their parties.