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Le Pen v. France, dec., No. 18788/09, ECtHR (Fifth Section), 20 April 2010


Discriminatory statements about Muslims made by a politician in an interview. Lawful interference with freedom of expression.

Normative references

Art. 10 ECHR


1. Statements by a politician about immigration and integration of immigrants, which present a negative image of the Muslim community as a whole likely to give rise to feelings of rejection, hostility and fear for national security are not permitted under the Convention. This is true although the statements had been made in the context of a debate of general interest. 

2. Interferences with freedom of expression of a politician who, by virtue of his office, represents his constituents, reports their concerns and defends their interests, must be assessed with particular care. Although those who take part in public debates tend to resort to exaggeration or even provocation in making their comments, such comments must be made with respect for the reputation and rights of others. 

(In the present case, the applicant, who was the president of the French political party Front National, had been condemned for incitement to hatred, discrimination and violence on account of statements he had made about Muslims immigrants in France in an interview with Le Monde daily newspaper. He had asserted, among other things, that “le jour où nous aurons, en France, non plus 5 millions mais 25 millions de musulmans, ce sont eux qui commanderont”. He alleged the violation of Article 10 ECHR. The Court found that the interference with the applicant’s enjoyment of his right to freedom of expression had been necessary in a democratic society and declared their application inadmissible).