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France court orders far-right anti-Islamic posters removed

A court of first instance in Marseilles Friday ordered that anti-Islamic campaign posters put up by the far-right National Front [party website, in French] be taken down [Le Figaro report, in French]. The posters [Le Figaro report, in French], proclaiming “No to Islamism”, depict a fully veiled woman standing next to a map of France with the pattern of the Algerian flag on it, and are directly inspired by Swiss posters deployed during the referendum on minarets [JURIST report]. The court held them to constitute an unlawful disturbance of public order. In a press release [text, in French], the party denounced the decision as “a serious violation of the freedom of opinion and of speech during an election period” and said it will appeal against it. The Algerian government had issued a complaint [AFP report, in French] about the posters Monday.

The National Front drew international attention in 2002 when party leader Jean-Marie Le Pen came second in the first run of the presidential elections. From 2002 to 2006 the party was the third largest one in the country, and is expected to come fourth in the regional elections [TNS-Sofres statistics, in French, PDF].

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