The charges against the National Front (FN) leader date back to 2010, when she was campaigning in Lyon to take over the party’s leadership from her father. Asked on Tuesday about being summoned to appear in court on 20 October, Le Pen told Agence France-Presse: “Of course, I’m not going to miss such an occasion”.
‘It is an occupation of part of the territory, suburbs where religious law is applied.
Marine Le Pen has been credited with “de-demonising” the FN and throwing out its more xenophobic and extremist elements since taking control of the party in January 2011.
“I’m sorry, but for those who like talking a lot about World War II, if it comes to talking about the occupation, we can talk about it, because that (Muslims praying on the street) is the occupation of territory”, she told a crowd in the southeastern city of Lyon. “Indeed there are no tanks, no soldiers, but there is an occupation just the same, and it weighs on the inhabitants”.
“If they really wanted to deal with Marine Le Pen it would have been much wiser for the mainstream political parties to just concentrate on themselves and on what they say”.
Ms Le Pen, who leads some polls for the 2017 presidential election, was investigated previous year for remarks she made in 2010 about Muslims blocking streets to pray in the open air. The current investigation was reopened in July 2014 after a complaint from a rights group, and her immunity as a member of the European Parliament was rescinded following a vote requested by French authorities.
The 47-year-old, who is widely expected to win a regional election in the north of France in December, called the trial a “scandal”.
On Tuesday, Le Pen vehemently reacted on the order to stand before trial. “We’re quicker to prosecute those who denounce the illegal behaviour of fundamentalists … than to prosecute the fundamentalists behaving illegally”, she wrote.
Speaking to Paris-based foreign journalists on Monday, Le Pen compared the flood of migrants on Europe’s doorstep to the “barbarian invasions” of the fourth century.
Her opinion poll ratings have not suffered from a row with her father Jean-Marie, the FN founder, whom she expelled from the party in August for comments playing down the Holocaust.