Le Pen infuriates Algeria by draping France with its flag

Poster that targets Islamic extremism also brings cries of plagiarism from Swiss

The French far right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen may be a veteran provocateur but to infuriate both the Algerians and the Swiss with one poster takes genuine talent.

The Algerian government has formally protested to Paris about a poster which associates its flag with Islamisme, or radical forms of Islam. The poster shows France covered by an Algerian flag and a forest of mosque minarets. The slogan reads: "Non à l'Islamisme".

It closely resembles a poster published by a nationalist party in Switzerland before a mosque-building referendum last November. The Swiss advertising agency that devised the original poster said it planned to sue Mr Le Pen's party, the National Front, for plagiarism.

The Algerian government and anti-racist groups in France have more pressing concerns. "We have officially protested," said the Algerian Foreign Minister, Mourad Medelci. "It is up to the French state to take the necessary measures when foreign countries' symbols are dragged through the mud."

Kahled Lasbeur, lawyer for the Movement against Racism, warned of "riots, demonstrations and blood-letting" if the posters are not banned.

The posters have been published by the NF's youth wing and, at first, were mostly displayed in the south of France. They are now appearing on placards, walls and motorway bridges all over the country. The party insists that the posters are a protest against extreme forms of Islam. Opponents say that the use of Algerian flags and minarets is a naked attempt to stir up anti-Islamic and anti-Arab feelings. New legal complaints have been brought by three anti-racism pressure groups.

The veteran far right leader, aged 81, is running to be president of Provence-Côte d'Azur in regional elections, which take place over two rounds this Sunday and the following weekend. If his own past pronouncements are to be believed, this may be Mr Le Pen's last political campaign. He has suggested that he plans to retire, possibly in favour of his daughter Marine Le Pen, 41, before the next national presidential election in 2012. In recent days, however, he has hinted that he might go on "for ever" if he scores well in the regional elections over the next 11 days.

In the most recent opinion polls, Mr Le Pen's list is said to command around 15 per cent of the vote in the Provence region – enough to reach the second round.

Overall, the National Front is given about 8 per cent of the vote nationwide, a substantial slump from its "glory" days in the late 1990s and 2002. Mr Le Pen's advancing age, the party's financial troubles and divisions over the more moderate approach taken by Marine (on some issues) have reduced the National Front's campaigning strength and grassroots membership.

The "Islamiste" posters are an attempt to appeal to the party's core, xenophobic support. Marine Le Pen responded to the attempts to ban the poster yesterday by calling the anti-racist groups "porteurs de valise" or bag-carriers. This is a loaded phrase, which was used to describe French supporters of the Algerian independence movement in the late 1950s and early 1960s but also carried implications of "carriers" of explosives.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
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

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss