PARIS (JTA) — Extreme rightist Jean-Marie Le Pen told the EU Parliament that "gas chambers were a detail in the history of the Second World War."
Following the remark, which he made on Wednesday, European Union Parliament members drafted an accord that could prevent the 81-year-old Le Pen from presiding over July’s inaugural session of parliament, Reuters reported.
Usually, the sessions of the European Parliament are chaired by the president of the institution, comprised of directly elected members from the European Union’s 27 member states. Traditionally, the assembly’s inaugural session after elections, during which its president is elected by the parliamentarians, is led by the oldest member of the body. In this case, that would be Le Pen.
A final vote on the accord will be held in April or May, Reuters reported.
Already charged and fined by French courts for similar remarks he made in 1987, Le Pen’s comments outraged European Parliament members and Jewish organizations.
“It would be a shame if Le Pen were allowed to become the doyen of the new European Parliament and would send a bad signal to Europe and the world,” World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder said in a statement released Wednesday. Lauder asked parliament members to prevent Le Pen from assuming the honorary role.
The European Jewish Congress condemned Le Pen’s remarks. "We call on European officials to ban hate speeches from the halls of the European Parliament along with those who utter them," EJC President Moshe Kantor said.
Next week the European Parliament will determine whether Le Pen will be sanctioned for his remarks, with a possible maximum penalty of a 10-day suspension.