Jean-Marie Le Pen summoned to court over gas chamber description

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Far-right French politician Jean-Marie Le Pen has been summoned to appear in a Paris court in the wake of his defense of his description of the Nazi gas chambers as “just a detail of WWII.”

Le Pen was summoned a few weeks ago to stand trial for denying crimes against humanity, the French news agency AFP reported Friday, citing a source close to the investigation.

Le Pen, 87, the longtime leader of the National Front that is now headed by his daughter, Marine, in April told French TV that he does not regret the statement he made in 1987.

“Gas chambers were a detail of the war, unless we accept that the war is a detail of the gas chambers,” he told BFM in April.

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“I continue to uphold the view because I think it is the truth and it should not shock anyone. They have exploited this affair against me, implying this is about anti-Semitism. But I defy anyone to quote me on anything anti-Semitic I have said in my political career,” he said.

Marine Le Pen, who has sought to gain mainstream acceptance for the anti-immigrant National Front by eliminating her father’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, responded by distancing herself and the party from her father, opposing his run for office in regional elections. He then pulled out of the election.

In May he was suspended from the party, and subsequently disowned his daughter. A French court later quashed his suspension and ordered the party to restore his position as the party’s honorary president.

In recent years, Marine Le Pen, 46, has rejected her father’s revisionist views and courted French Jews in a move that many observers said was designed to rehabilitate the party’s name. Since she took the helm in 2011, the once-isolated party has achieved victories in some town and county legislatures. Marine Le Pen has flirted with the idea of a presidential run.

Jean-Marie Le Pen was convicted in 1987 of racial hatred for his observation about the gas chambers and fined.

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