On Thursday, France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen was charged with inciting violence for posting gruesome images of Islamic State (ISIS) fighters. The National Assembly voted in November to strip her of her parliamentary immunity, and she is being charged for photos she posted three years ago in an attempt to defend her party from media smears.
National Front leader Le Pen faces charges of circulating “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or serious harm human dignity.” The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of €75,000 ($91,000).
Le Pen posted the pictures a few weeks after the Paris terror attacks in November 2015, which took the lives of 130 people. One of the pictures showed the body of James Foley, an American journalist beheaded by radical Islamic terrorists.
As it turns out, Le Pen was responding to a TV journalist who compared her party, the National Front, with the Islamic State. “Daesh is this!” Le Pen tweeted, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS. She later deleted the picture of Foley’s body after a request from his family.
“I am being charged for having condemned the horrors of Daesh,” Le Pen told the French news agency AFP. “In other countries this would have earned me a medal.”
Le Pen was not the first lawmaker to have her immunity stripped. Last September, parliament lifted the immunity of another National Front lawmaker, Gilbert Collard, over similar tweets with ISIS images.
When her immunity was stripped, Le Pen denounced the move as a “lowly, purely political decision” that violated her freedom of expression.
She lost the presidential election last May to centrist Emmanuel Macron. The National Front has opposed the unfettered immigration of Middle Eastern migrants, warning against the possibility that radical Islamic terrorists would enter the country under the cover of refugees.
While posting ISIS images may have been a bit much, it made sense for Le Pen to defend her party against comparisons to the Islamic State. The idea that she might go to prison for such attempts is ludicrous.