Former Front National candidate jailed for calling black minister a chimpanzee

 

Paris

In the severest sentence of its kind ever handed down in France, a former far-right local politician has been sentenced to nine months in prison for comparing a black cabinet minister to a chimpanzee.

Anne-Sophie Leclère, a senior Front National municipal candidate in northern France, posted adjacent images on Facebook of a female chimpanzee and the justice minister, Christiane Taubira. The first image was labelled “at 18 months old” and the second “now”.

Challenged about the images in a TV documentary last year, Ms Leclère, 33, said: “On the whole I would rather see (Ms Taubira) in the branches of a tree than see her in the government.” She was rapidly expelled from the FN as part of a drive by its leader, Marine Le Pen to clean up the party.

The Front National was nonetheless – to its fury – also found guilty late on Tuesday of inciting racial hatred by a court at Cayenne, in Guyane in the French West Indies. The FN was fined €30,000. Ms Leclère, from Rethel in the Ardennes on the Franco-Belgian border, was given a nine months' jail sentence, fined Euros 50,000 and banned from politics for five years.  

Both the FN and Ms Leclère have appealed. 

FN leaders attacked the judgement as a “judicial ambush” “immoral” and “politically biased”. They complained about the fact that the case had been heard in Guyane – Ms Taubira’s birthplace and an overseas part of France which has an overwhelmingly black population.

“Clearly, in the court in Cayenne, the normal rules do not apply,” the FN said in a statement. “These incredible violations of our legal system must be vigorously denounced.”

The party also complained that it had found no defence laywer in Guyane willing to take on the case, brought by a local anti-racist group. The FN secretary general Florian Philippot said that the severity of the sentence on Ms Leclere “contrasted grotesquely” with light sentences given to criminals “who massacre people with iron bars”.

The judgement was also criticised by some – not all – centre right politcians but welcomed by the centre-left government and by anti-racist pressure groups.

The government spokesman Stéphane Le Foll, said that he was not going to “judge the judgement” but the attack on Christiane Taubira  was “perfectly revolting, unacceptable… and a racist act.”

Ms Leclère, 33, said: 'I would rather see (Ms Taubira) in the branches of a tree than see her in the government' Ms Leclère, 33, said: 'I would rather see (Ms Taubira) in the branches of a tree than see her in the government' The lobby group SOS-Racisme said that the court’s ruling should be a landmark in public attitudes to the FN, which topped the poll in the French part of the European elections in May. “This party, whose driving force is hatred of others, can no longer pretend to discover that its election candidates are racist or anti-semitic each time that a controversy like this arises,” the group said.

Ms Leclère was the head of an FN candidates’ list for municipal election in Rethel in Ardennes when she was interviewed for a TV documentary last October. She was sked about her Facebook posting comparing Ms Taubira to a chimpanzee. She said it was a “joke” and “not racist” but she would rather see Ms Taubiura in a tree than in the cabinet.

The FN expelled her from the party, describing her as an “error of casting”. Several similar incidents involving FN municipal candidates followed.

Ms Taubira, 62, is a brilliant academic and lawyer turned politician who has risen from deep poverty in Guyana to one of the top two or three posts in French government. She is detested on the hard right of French politics for pushing through a law legalising same-sex marriage last year.

Soon after Ms Leclère’s attack on her on  Facebook, Ms Taubira was greeted by anti-gay marriage protesters on a visit to Angers in central France. They included children carrying “bananas for the monkey.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Project Manager

£35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is going through a period o...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Developer - Java

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award-winning digital publishing solution...

Austen Lloyd: Construction Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: NON-CONTENTIOUS (0-2 PQE) - A rare opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Financial Analyst

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Financial Analyst is required to join...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness