LONDON (Sep. 27)
Jean-Marie Le Pen, leader of France’s far rightwing National Front Party, has cancelled his planned visit to Britain as anger still boiled over his remarks on a recent radio interview that the Holocaust was a mere footnote to the history of World War II.
Last week, an embarrassed Conservative Party made clear that Le Pen would not be welcome. He was invited by Sir Alfred Sherman, a prominent Conservative and former political advisor to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to address a fringe meeting at the party’s annual conference in Blackpool next month. Norman Tabbit, national chairman of the Conservative Party, said Le Pen would be given no facilities at the conference and urged party members to boycott any fringe meetings where he might speak.
Sherman, a one-time Communist turned rightwing ideologue and himself Jewish, said he invited Le Pen before the latter’s public denigration of the Holocaust. Although Le Pen did not retract his remarks, Sherman accepted his subsequent explanation that he simply wanted to view the Holocaust in the perspective of all the mass deaths that occurred in the war years.
Le Pen, a member of the French Chamber of Deputies, is being sued in civil court by the International League Against Anti-Semitism (LICRA) for inciting racial hatred.
Sherman blamed “media hysteria” for Le Pen’s cancellation of his visit. He insisted that the French rightwinger is not an anti-Semite.