French mayor bows to far right and shutters Holocaust exhibition


(JTA) — A French mayor closed down an exhibition on the Holocaust at the urging of politicians from the far-right National Front party, who said it constituted illicit campaigning near a polling station on election day.

The exhibit, depicting police officers who saved Jews during the Holocaust, was shut down by the mayor of Ploeren on May 7, when France voted in the final round of the presidential elections.

Although there was no mention of the National Front in the exhibit, a local activist for the party said it could encourage voters to “raise questions” about the party, which was founded by Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen.

”The media have circulated the idea that we are the new Nazis,” Bertrand Iragne told the magazine Marianne. Jean-Marie has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred of Jews. Le Pen’s daughter  Marine Le Pen faced Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, in the runoff.

Macron handily won the runoff against Marine Le Pen.

Iragne said that generally speaking he “welcomes” an exhibition on the Holocaust. But in addition to its subject matter, the exhibition did feature a picture of Simone Veil, a Jewish French politician who served under the socialist former president François Mitterrand.

Gilbert Lorho, the mayor of the town, which is located approximately 280 miles west of Paris, told Marianne he ordered the temporary shuttering of the exhibition to “avoid unnecessary conflict” during the election.

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