Paris, Oct 20 (IANS) French National Front leader Marine Le Pen arrived at a court in Lyon on Tuesday to begin a trial where she is charged with inciting racial hatred, for comparing Muslims praying in the street to the Nazi occupation.
She made the comments at a rally in the city in 2010 when she was fighting for the leadership of the party, BBC reported.
Le Pen is accused of incitement to discrimination, violence or hatred towards a group of people because of their religious affiliation and if found guilty, she could face up to a year in jail and a fine of 45,000 pounds ($51,000).
“I’m sorry, but some people are very fond of talking about the Second World War and about the occupation, so let’s talk about occupation, because that is what is happening here,” Le Pen said during the rally in December 2010.
“There are no tanks, no soldiers, but it is still an occupation, and it weighs on people,” she added.
Le Pen was investigated for her public remarks and she was eventually stripped of her immunity from prosecution by the European Parliament in 2013.
Ahead of the trial, Le Pen made clear that she would use the occasion to defend her right to freedom of expression.
The French Council of the Muslim Faith said her remarks had fed a climate of Islamophobia.