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Le Pen denies French role in round-up of Jews

Le Pen sparks controversy with WWII comments [AFP]

Date of publication: 10 April, 2017

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Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen denies the role French police played in the round-up of 13,000 Jews during WWII.
Far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen sparked controversy on Sunday when she denied that France was responsible for the round-up of Jews during WWII.

Former President Jacques Chirac and current leader Francois Hollande have both apologised for the role French police played in the round-up of more than 13,000 Jews at the Vel d'Hiv cycling track which was ordered by Nazi officers in 1942.

But Le Pen told the LCI television channel on Sunday: "I don't think France is responsible for the Vel d'Hiv."

She added: "I think that generally speaking if there are people responsible, it's those who were in power at the time. It's not France."

The leader of the National Front (FN) party said France had "taught our children that they have all the reasons to criticise (the country), and to only see, perhaps, the darkest aspects of our history".

"So, I want them to be proud of being French again," she said.

Ahead of the first round of France's highly unpredictable presidential election on April 23, Le Pen's centrist rival Emmanuel Macron said her comments were "a serious mistake".

"Some had forgotten that Marine Le Pen is the daughter of Jean-Marie Le Pen," Macron told BFMTV.

Le Pen Senior, who founded the FN in 1972 and is estranged from his daughter, has been convicted repeatedly for anti-Semitic and racist comments such as calling the Holocaust a "detail of history".

"We must not be complacent or minimise what the National Front is today," Macron said.

Israel's foreign ministry, the CRIF umbrella grouping of French Jewish organisations, and the Jewish students' union (UEJF) all blasted Le Pen for the comments, describing them as "revisionist".

Several opinion polls show a tightening race between the top four candidates in the French election, with support for frontrunners Le Pen and centrist Emmanuel Macron slipping back and conservative Francois Fillon neck-and-neck with Jean-Luc Melenchon of the far-left.

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