Le Pen Goes on Trial for Alleged Racist Comments

Marine Le Pen
France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen speaking during a rally in Paris May 1, 2012. Le Pen appeared in court on Tuesday over comments made in 2010. Charles Platiau/Reuters

French National Front leader Marine Le Pen arrived in a Lyon court on Tuesday to stand trial for alleged racist comments she made during a campaign speech in December 2010. At the time, Le Pen compared Muslim street prayers to the Nazi occupation in France during World War II, according to the BBC.

Le Pen, whose anti-immigration and anti-EU message is attracting increasing support for her party in France, is standing trial over charges of inciting racial hatred. As she entered the court, Le Pen said: "I have committed no crime," according to France 24.

Four anti-racism and human rights groups have brought a case against her on charges of "incitement to discrimination, violence or hatred towards a group of people on the basis of their religion," reports the Guardian newspaper.

Le Pen made the campaign speech following reports of Muslims praying in public in three cities because of a lack of local mosques or a lack of space in local prayer rooms, reports the BBC.

"I'm sorry, but for those who really like to talk about World War II, if we're talking about occupation, we can also talk about this while we're at it, because this is an occupation of territory," she said at the time to a crowd of supporters.

"It's an occupation of swaths of territory, of areas in which religious laws apply...for sure, there are no tanks, no soldiers, but it's an occupation all the same and it weighs on people."

Le Pen could face up to a year in prison and a fine of 45,000 euros ($51,000) if convicted.