Thursday 22 March 2018

Protesters disrupt Le Pen at march

A Femen activist interrupts the National Front's annual May Day march in Paris. (AP)
A Femen activist interrupts the National Front's annual May Day march in Paris. (AP)
France's far-right National Front demonstrators chant during their annual May Day march, in Paris. (AP)

Bare-chested Femen activists interrupted France's National Front president Marine Le Pen and used a bullhorn to drown out a speech by her in Paris.

Two Femen activists barged into a wreath-laying ceremony by the daughter of the party's founder, Jean Marie Le Pen.

The chaotic May Day events reflected a party in turmoil over a family feud between its 86-year-old founder and his daughter, who has pushed him to the sidelines.

During Marine Le Pen's speech at the Paris Opera House, three Femen members appeared on a nearby balcony, unfurling a flag reading "Heil Le Pen" and, using a bullhorn, briefly drowned out her speech decrying immigration and the European Union.

Jean-Marie Le Pen goes before a party disciplinary committee on Monday for reiterating anti-Semitic statements for which he has already been convicted.

His daughter, at the helm of the party since 2011, wants to clean up the National Front's image ahead of France's 2017 presidential election.

For the first time, the elder Le Pen, did not march at the side of his daughter or have a place on stage during her speech. She was instead surrounded by recently elected local party officials.

But Mr Le Pen made sure he was not left out, despite a well-scripted scenario that kept father and daughter apart.

Dressed in a bright red jacket, he cried out "Help, Joan of Arc!" while laying a wreath at the foot of the gilded statue of the saint - for the first time alone. He later mounted the stage at the start of his daughter's speech, raising clenched fists as if in victory before withdrawing.

Press Association

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