French National Front leader Marine Le Pen named as latest far-right figure to speak at prestigious Oxford University Union

  • Ms Le Pen will be speaking at the famous venue in February
  • But campaigners say they will protest outside the Union if talk goes ahead
  • Described the politician as a ‘Euro-fascist’ who wants to split society  
  • Le Pen is known for her controversial right-wing views
  • Called for surveillance in mosques following Charlie Hebdo massacres 

Ms Le Pen -whose party has been accused of stoking Islamophobia in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre – will be speaking at the prestigious venue on February 6.

But disgusted campaigners have promised to protest outside of the Oxford Union if the talk goes ahead, especially in light of the Front Nationale’s antagonistic comments following last week’s attacks in Paris.

Marie Le Pen - whose party was accused of stoking Islamophobia after the Charlie Hebdo attacks - has been invited to speak at the Oxford Union in February

Weyman Bennett, the joint national secretary of Unite Against Fascism, told the MailOnline: ‘We will organise a counter-protest made up of elements of our society which want to stay together.’

Ms Le Pen took over from her father Jean Marie as the Front Nationale in 2011, in which time she has worked to move the party away from Mr Le Pen’s more extreme views.

It led to Mr Le Pen she had turned it into a ‘bizarre’ conformist party.

However, the Front Nationale is still seen as extremely right wing – and only this week Ms Le Pen called for surveillance in mosques, as well as the reintroduction of national service for boys and girls.

In her comments – made in response to last week’s massacres at the Charlie Hebdo office and a Jewish supermarket – she also called for the ‘immediate’ suspension of Europe’s border-free travel accord.

‘Only yesterday a man was stabbed 17 times by an Islamophobe,’ he said.

‘I believe the language used by Marine Le Pen has contributed to an atmosphere where there is a dangerous backlash against Muslims in our society.’

Mr Bennett added: ‘Her father once described the Holocaust as a small detail in history.

‘I believe it is an insult to the millions of people who died that we see the reinvention of a party aiming to benefit politically out of the terrible tragedy that took place inside France.’

Ms Le Pen is not the first controversial figure to speak at the Oxford Union.

Ms Le Pen is not the first controversial figure to be invited to speak at the Union - a scuffle broke out when the BNP's Nick Griffin spoke in 2007

Former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson and the British National Party’s Nick Griffin have previously given talks.

Mr Griffin has been invited to speak twice: the first time, in 2007, a scuffle broke out between protesters and organisers and security staff, while the invitation was withdrawn in 2013.

Ms Le Pen insists she has ‘de-demonised’ the French National Front and insists that her father was ‘misunderstood.’

She ranks as one of France’s most popular politicians, with a 46 per cent approval rating, and has backed state-run energy, health, education, transport and even financial services.

She has also championed retirement at 60, regarded as an almost inalienable right in France.

This term, people invited to speak at the Union include Tea Party pin-up Sarah Palin, hated Eurocrat Herman van Rompuy and American pop star Nick Jonas.

Lisa Wehden, this term’s Union president, explained: ‘An invitation from the Union is not an endorsement of any particular agenda.

‘The Union believes in the principle of freedom of speech and we would encourage all members who disagree with an invited speakers view to attend the event and question the speaker.

‘We allow our members to meet people face to face and make their own minds up.’

From the Mail Online Report by Flora Drury. 


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