The leader the French nationalist and eurosceptic National Front political party, Marine Le Pen, faces a year in prison and a 45,000 euros fine for criticizing Muslims.
The state considers Len Pen’s remarks about Muslims praying the streets to be hate speech and has accused her of “inciting discrimination, violence or hatred toward a group of people based on their religious beliefs.”France has one of the toughest hate speech laws in Europe. The law has been used against journalists, authors, filmmakers, newspapers and periodicals, including the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. In January Islamic terrorists stormed the office of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people.
“I’m sorry, but for those who like talking a lot about World War II, if it comes to talking about the occupation, we can talk about it, because that (Muslims praying on the street) is the occupation of territory,” she said in 2010.
“It is an occupation of part of the territory, suburbs where religious law is applied. Sure, there are no armored vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation nonetheless and it weighs on residents.”
Muslim groups filed a complaint under France’s hate speech laws and demanded Le Pen be investigated and prosecuted.