While French far-right leader and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen has spent much of her campaign trying to tone down the more extreme side of her party, her father doesn’t seem to have gotten the memo.
After recently being found guilty of making pro-Nazi remarks, Jean-Marie Le Pen has now been caught defending embattled and notorious Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an interview on RadioFrance, calling him a leader “facing a rebellion which is both civil and military,” and that it was not abnormal that “the Syrian state is defending itself.”
He went on to chide the West, saying Assad should not be criticised by countries who fought Nazi Germany in World War II, and were themselves responsible for devastating bombings.
While his daughter, Marine Le Pen, has been careful to remain noncommittal on the National Front’s stance on Syria, saying in a TV debate that there weren’t “only bad guys or good guys” in the conflict, according to France 24, her father, 85 did not hold back.
Le Pen senior dismissed the deaths of the 6,000 people killed in Syria, saying they were nothing compared to the casualties of WWII.
“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,” he said, before reading out a poem by French Nazi sympathizer Robert Brasillach.
But Sylvain Crépon, a specialist of the French far right, said the popularity of the National Front and Marine Le Pen (she is currently third in the polls) will not take a hit following her father’s faux pas. “If she’s pressed, she will always argue that it’s better to have a secular dictatorship than an Islamist democracy,” he told France 24. “And besides, foreign policy is not a major concern for most FN supporters.”
Watch the full interview (in French) here:
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