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Jean-Marie Le Pen Slammed For Apparent Anti-Semitic Remark

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LE PEN
Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder and honorary president of France's far-right National Front Party, gestures as he arrives to attend a gathering of party leaders at the party's headquarters in Nanterre, outside Paris, on May 26, 2014. (STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images) | STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN via Getty Images

One of the big winner's of Europe's parliamentary elections, France's National Front Party, is embroiled in scandal and infighting after recent remarks by its founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, have been roundly criticized as anti-Semitic.

In a video posted on the National Front website, Le Pen was asked about Patrick Bruel, a Jewish singer who has criticized the far-right party. According to a New York Times translation of the response, Le Pen said, "We'll include him in the next batch," using the term "fournee," which refers to a batch of bread baked in the oven. Critics have condemned the comment as a reference to Nazi gas chambers.

The incident has caused many in the party to publicly distance themselves from Le Pen, who is the honorary president of the National Front. In a rare split from her father, Marine Le Pen -- the party's leader -- called the statement a "political error." The video has been removed from the National Front website.

Le Pen has a history of anti-Semitic remarks and was convicted in 1986 for referring to Nazi gas chambers as "merely a detail of history."

The public flare-up comes at a particularly bad time for the National Front. Its dominant victory in the recent European parliamentary elections has put a spotlight on the party's ultra-conservative policies and history of anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant rhetoric. Marine Le Pen has fought hard to eschew that image, promoting herself as the face of a kinder, gentler National Front. Those efforts may now be in jeopardy, with many critics pointing to this as emblematic of the true face of the party.

Le Pen lashed out at his detractors on Monday, saying "it is they who have made a political mistake, not me."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified the singer as Peter Bruel. The story has been corrected to reflect his name is Patrick Bruel.

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