French court defends comedian for calling Le Pen 'fascist b*tch'
Nicolas Bedos made the remark in a column he wrote for the Marianne magazine in January 2012.
Le Pen found the comedian’s words offensive and took the matter to court. However, the judges didn’t rule in her favor.
An appeals court in Paris stated that it was "perfectly clear to any reader that the column in question was being deliberately provocative," Le Figaro newspaper reported.
Bedos was in his right to call Le Pen ‘a fascist b*tch,’ the French judges ruled, also acquitting Marianne magazine’s editor, Maurice Szafran, for publishing the piece.
This isn’t the first time the National Front leader has lost a court battle over defamation of character.
In April 2014, judges rejected the right-wing politician’s attempt to bar her political rivals from using the term ‘fascist,’ while talking about her.
The term has “no insulting character when employed between political opponents on a political subject,” the court ruled.
Earlier, Le Pen promised that she would sue every journalist, who referred to the national Front as "extreme right" as it was an unjust description used deliberately to damage the party’s reputation.
Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in 1972 has been often accused of racism and anti-Semitism.
But now as the party is gaining greater support from the French public, his daughter Marine Le Pen is working on softening the National Front’s image and stance on many issues.
According to opinion polls, the National Front is outperforming its main rivals for the local elections on March 22 and 29, gaining the support of almost 30 percent of respondents.
However, the Bedos acquittal doesn’t mean the French judicial system is eager to show the same lighthearted approach to any controversial comments coming from comedians.
On Wednesday, French comedian, Dieudonne M'bala M'bala, was handed a two-month suspended sentence for condoning terrorism on social networks.
Just days after 17 people were killed in January’s Islamist attacks in Paris, he wrote on Facebook that he feel like Charlie Coulibaly (“Je me sens Charlie Coulibaly”).
The comment combined the “Je Suis Charlie” slogan, which was widely used by the public as a sign of solidarity with the victims of the attacks (including a deadly shooting at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine) and the name of one of the three militants responsible for the killings.
Amedy Coulibaly killed a policewoman and four people in a hostage taking incident at a Jewish supermarket.
Following January’s attacks, France introduced stricter anti-terrorist measures, expanding the powers of its security services.
On Monday, the country blocked five websites it blamed for condoning terrorism, sparking criticism from Europe’s leading human rights body.
Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe, Nils Muiznieks, said the move was “a big mistake” and a threat to freedom of expression.
The French government also presented a draft law to parliament on Thursday, which may allow surveillance on digital and mobile communications of anyone linked to extremists without any judicial authorization.