French far-right party leader Marine Le Pen will go on trial for comparing Muslim street prayers to wartime Nazi occupation, a party official and the prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday.
Le Pen, whom polls see likely to win a regional election in northern France in December, has widened the National Front’s appeal since she took its helm in 2011 by expelling extremists and cracking down on anti-Semitism.
But the party also thrives on concerns over immigration. In a meeting in 2010, Le Pen criticized Muslims praying in the streets when mosques are full.
She will be judged on Oct. 20 over charges of “incitement to discrimination over people’s religious beliefs,” the prosecutor’s office in Lyon said. Party official Wallerand de Saint-Just confirmed the FN had been informed of the trial.
Le Pen had told the 2010 rally in Lyon: “I’m sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War II, if we’re talking about occupation, we could talk about that (street prayers), because that is clearly an occupation of the territory.”
“It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of neighborhoods in which religious law applies, it is an occupation. There are no tanks, there are no soldiers, but it is an occupation anyhow, and it weighs on people,” she added.