PARIS - Comparing Muslim street prayers to Nazi occupation, far-right French leader Marine Le Pen could face criminal charges after her immunity was revoked.
A secret vote to remove Le Pen's immunity was "overwhelming", the BBC reported Saturday, June 1.Le Pen's immunity as a European parliament member was revoked after a request from French authorities.
The move came after Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Front, compared Muslim street prayers to Nazi occupation in a speech given during a rally in 2010.
"For those who want to talk a lot about World War Two, if it's about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory," she said at a gathering in Lyon.
In 2011, The French authorities opened a case against Le Pen, accusing her of inciting racism.
Yet, as a European Parliament member (MEP), she enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
The immunity protection was removed by a European parliamentary committee in a secret vote this week.
The decision would require ratification by the full parliament, a move expected to be a formality.
Now after her immunity was removed, she could face criminal charges over her speech.
Le Pen took over the National Front from her father, party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, who has several convictions for racism and anti-Semitism.
Focusing on inciting fear on the role of Islam in France, home to up to six million Muslims, Le Pen shocked the French elite by winning almost 18 percent in the first round of last year's presidential vote, her party's highest ever score.
Muslims and their customs and traditions have been under the spotlight in recent years in France.
Former president Nicolas Sarkozy had adopted a series of measures to restrict Muslim freedoms in an effort to win support of far-right voters.
Under Sarkozy, the French government had held a national debate on the role of Islam in French society.
Praying in the streets was banned in Paris in 2011 in response to growing far right protests.Muslims perform their weekly prayers in the streets in France due to lack of enough mosques to perform their religious duties.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net