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The New Arab

Le Pen adviser fined for inciting hatred towards Muslims

Le Pen was accused of a form of holocaust denial by Israel's president on Tuesday[Getty]

Date of publication: 26 April, 2017

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Robert Menard, the mayor of a southern French town said there were too many Muslim children at the schools in his town and that there were limits to tolerance.

An adviser to the far-right nationalist French presidential candidate, Marine Le Pen, has been found guilty of inciting hatred and discrimination towards Muslims.

Robert Menard, the mayor of Beziers, a town in southern France, was fined 2,000 euros by a Paris court for saying there were too many Muslim children in his town's schools.

France is a secular state and Menard was fined under a 1978 law that forbids the collection or dissemination of data based on religious grounds.

The prosecutor said Menard's statement had reduced children "to their religion, regardless of whether they have French nationality or do not practice".

Menard told France's LCI Television on September 5: "In a class in the city centre of my town, 91 percent of the children are Muslims. Obviously, this is a problem. There are limits to tolerance."

Le Pen temporarily resigned as the president of France's far-right National Front party, founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen in order to appeal to a wider range of French voters.

Menard tweeted before the trial that he would appeal his conviction.

"This is an unfair decision. If saying what one sees is a crime... I am clearly going to appeal," he said.

"I just described the situation in my town. It is not a value judgement, it's a fact. It's what I can see."

Le Pen will face the centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the country's election on May 7. Macron is an ex-socialist party member who has since launched his own party - En Marche!

One of Le Pen's chief campaigning officers admitted to journalists in January that the National Front in power would consider an immigration ban similar to that signed by United States' President Donald Trump.

Israel's President Reuven Rivlin accused Le Pen of a form of holocaust denial on Tuesday after Le Pen denied France's involvement in the mass arrest by the Nazis of Parisian Jews.

"Some two weeks ago a French presidential candidate denied France's responsibility for the deportation of its Jewish citizens to the Nazi concentration and death camps," Rivlin said.

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