France’s ultranationalist National Front Party suspended one of its candidates for posting a picture of a burning Israeli flag and anti-Semitic statements on Facebook.
Francois Chatelain of Neuville-en-Ferrain near Lille posted the picture earlier this month with a caption reading: “This is France here!” according to the Le Figaro daily newspaper. Another picture showed a masculine hand pulling away an Israeli flag to reveal the French tricolor.
Another post concerned suspicions of sexual abuse at Beth Hanna, a Jewish school in Paris. Chatelain wrote: “Well, that’s a Jew.” A post also showed former French President Nicolas Sarkozy with a rabbi and warned against “the lobby which runs the media, finance and provokes wars for colonialist and economic reasons (the Greater Israel project and the elimination of Iran and Syria).”
The posting by Chatelain, a 28-year-old candidate for the National Front Party in local elections, was brought to the attention of party leader Marine Le Pen by Gerald Darmanin, a lawmaker in France’s National Assembly for Sarkozy’s center-right UMP party.
“The images and comments posted by Francois Chatelain on his Facebook page are in total contradiction with the political line of the FN,” read a statement released by the party last week. “As a result, Mr. Chatelain is suspended from the National Front and his registration as a candidate for the municipal elections has been withdrawn. He will shortly be called before the party’s disciplinary commission with a view to him being expelled.”
The party garnered 23 percent of the vote in the region in the first round of the presidential elections last year, compared with a national average of 13 percent.
Under Marine Le Pen, the National Front has sought greater respectability by distancing its policies from some anti-Semitic and racist statements made by Jean-Marie Le Pen, Marine Le Pen’s father, and other top National Front figures.