'Race attack' sparks French row
3/1/2012 12:31:31 PM -
French far-right leader Marine Le Pen has condemned a reported street attack on a broadcaster who had challenged her on TV about her controversial policies.
Audrey Pulvar says she and her partner, Socialist politician Arnaud Montebourg, were harassed by about 15 men as they left a Paris restaurant.
The men allegedly shouted “Le Pen for president”, chanted “Juden” (German for “Jews”) and threw glasses. “Obviously I condemn this type of aggression,” said Ms Le Pen.
The National Front leader added: “You cannot consider, before the police have done their work, that these people are people from the National Front.”
Ms Le Pen, daughter of National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen, hopes to qualify as a candidate in the presidential election which begins in April.
Opinion polls suggest she would come third in the first round behind Nicolas Sarkozy in second place, and Socialist candidate Francois Hollande in first.
Reacting to news of the alleged attack, Mr Hollande said: “It is unacceptable to attack a person for his ideas and to do it in a cowardly manner with shouts, insults, with glasses thrown and with remarks that border on anti-Semitism and racism.”
The National Front's founder has been convicted of racism or anti-Semitism after describing the Nazi gas chambers as a “detail of history”.
As the couple walked on, the men threw glasses which broke against their backs, Ms Pulvar said. The attack in the city's 16th District only stopped when “some member of staff, if not the leader of pack” intervened.
She later reported the events, in which neither she nor Mr Montebourg appear to have been injured, to police.
Mr Montebourg, who is of French and ethnic Algerian extraction, came to prominence last year when he came third in the Socialist presidential primaries, winning 17% in the first round.
Ms Pulvar questioned the National Front leader during a heated debate on France 2 TV's ONPC programme on 18 February. BBC