We should consider our history of standing up to Nazism before judging Bashar al-Assad for the slaughter of his people. Or so says that luminary of the French far right Jean-Marie Le Pen.
In an interview on French radio this week, Le Pen, father of National Front leader and presidential hopeful Marine Le Pen, told listeners: “I don’t find it abnormal that the Syrian state is defending itself”.
Veiling the National Front’s racist and homophobic ideology has been the challenge of Marine Le Pen who, until recently, saw her party ahead of Sarkozy in the polls. It is still an open question – fortunately perhaps – if she will secure the five hundred signatures from elected representatives necessary to stand in the first round of the French Presidential Elections, which takes place on the 22 April.
Jean-Marie Le Pen later said, clarifying his comments:
“Yes, there is shelling every minute, every two minutes [in Syria]. But within just 30 seconds in Tokyo, 100,000 civilians were killed. In Nagasaki, Hiroshima, 80,000 were killed. In Dresden, 200,000. The people who carried out these bombings on civilians should keep quiet about Mr Assad and his 6,000 deaths over six months.”
Even ignoring the clear differences between the two conflicts and the relatively obvious objections to his comments, former Allied countries might find the moral advice, from a man convicted of inciting racial hatred on a number of occasions, difficult to accept.
On other topics during the interview, Jean-Marie Le Pen was equally as provocative. Responding to reports that his daughter had refused to respond to Left Front (a far-left party) leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon during a television debate last week, he said: “Moi j’offre un débat à Monsieur Mélenchon, et je vais lui retirer son caleçon”. Which means (and the poor sentence structure exists in the French too): “I offer to debate Monsieur Mélenchon, and I will remove his underwear”. Charming.