By Mick Krever, CNN
Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front party, disputed on Friday reports that her father suggested Ebola as a possible cure for Europe’s immigration problem.
“Madame, this is a lie,” Le Pen told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “That is a lie, a maneuver, a campaign maneuver. He never said that.”
Ahead of European Parliament elections, Jean-Marie Le Pen – founder of the National Front – reportedly said the deadly Ebola virus could help step global population and help Europe’s “immigration problem” in the process, according to French media.
“He was not speaking about immigration,” Marine Le Pen said. “He was speaking about the fate of humanity as a whole. That is what he said.”
The National Front, like many far-right parties across Europe, is grappling with allegations that in advocating more national autonomy from the EU they are also spewing racist propaganda.
“I do not have any image to clean up as far as the leadership is concerned. [My father] defends all French people, whatever their race, whatever their religion, whatever their origins.”
“So let me just be clear,” Amanpour said, “the French press reported that those were your father’s words ahead of a rally in Marseille this week on Tuesday. Are you denying that?”
“Yes, it is a lie,” Le Pen said.
This comment, of course, is far from the first controversy the National Front finds itself in. Under Jean-Marie Le Pen’s leadership, the party was considered to be very anti-Semitic; he famously described the Holocaust as just a detail of history, Amanpour said.
“The Holocaust was a major event of the Second World War,” Marine Le Pan said. “It was awful. And I can confirm there is no trace of anti-Semitism in the National Front.”
Indeed, she claimed many French Jews see that party as a bulwark against fundamentalism.
“We want to defend our culture, our morals, our traditions, our codes, our way of life,” she said. “Every country, every people, has the right to defend what they are without any xenophobia, without any hostility, but with firmness and with a conviction.”
A recent BVA poll showed 79% of voters think Le Pen’s position on the EU is undesirable, and 68% have a poor opinion of Le Pen. What chance does she have of winning?
“I can remind you that the French president has seventeen per cent popularity at the moment. Mister Copé, the president of the UMP [Union for a Popular Movement] has twelve-percent popularity. So you can see if twenty-four percent is the result, we can see that democracy will have spoken.”
“The National Front is a movement which interests many people throughout the world, and we have to see what things are from the point of view of the truth and not an image which our opponents give of us.”