French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour acquitted of Holocaust denial charge

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French presidential candidate Eric Zemmour acquitted of Holocaust denial charge

The far-right politician had been accused over comments defending Phillipe Pétain, the wartime French leader who collaborated with the Nazis

Eric Zemmour
Eric Zemmour

A French court acquitted former presidential candidate Éric Zemmour of denying a crime against humanity by saying that a French collaborator with the Nazis had saved most French Jews.

The Appeals Court of Paris last week confirmed an earlier ruling from January by a lower court that said that Zemmour was innocent of the action, which is illegal in France.

Several left-leaning anti-racism groups had filed complaints against the politician over his 2019 comments saying that Philippe Pétain, whom the Nazis allowed to administer a part of France after they occupied the country in 1940, had sacrificed foreign Jews living in France to save Jewish citizens.

The issue is divisive because it touches on the question of French complicity in the Holocaust.

Multiple French presidents since Jacques Chirac have acknowledged collaboration by the French government, and public monuments honouring Petain have been removed across France.

Others dispute that history, especially in far-right circles and in some far-left ones. At least one renowned historian, Alain Michel, advocates the theory that some of Pétain’s policies were guided by a desire to save French Jews.

Yet the view held by Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld is more widely held. Klarsfeld has called Zemmour’s interpretation “completely false.”

Zemmour last week week announced he would be running for a seat in the French parliament in the June 12 election.

He came in fourth in the first round of the presidential elections in April, and did not continue to the second and final round in which President Emmanuel Macron defeated Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right National Rally party.

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