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Le Pen’s New Party Leader Fired Over Holocaust Denial

(JTA) — The leadership of the far-right National Front party in France replaced its pick for interim president following reports he had denied aspects of the Holocaust.

Jean-François Jalkh, who temporarily took Marine Le Pen’s place leading the National Front ahead of the May 7 presidential election runoff, was replaced on Friday, two days after his appointment.

Jalkh is disputing the veracity of quotes attributed to him in a 2000 interview, in which he was quoted as questioning the use of the Zyklon B poison by Nazis during the Holocaust to kill Jews.

“Personally, I think that it is impossible from a technical point of view to use for mass extermination,” he said of the use of Zyklon B in gas chambers. “Why? Because it takes several days for a place where Zyklon B was used to be decontaminated.”

Le Pen, who succeeded her father Jean-Marie in 2011 as party leader, has attempted to rehabilitate the party’s image, condemning the Holocaust and distancing herself from Jean-Marie’s anti-Semitic rhetoric. But last month she said that “France is not responsible” for its authorities’ actions during the Nazi occupation, when French police officers helped Nazis round up Jews and send them to be murdered.

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