On December 16, 2015, a French journalist on a mainstream radio station compared France’s right-wing National Front Party to the Islamic State (ISIS) by saying that there is a “community of spirit” between them and that both push those who support them to “withdraw into their own identity”. Marine Le Pen, the president of the National Front party, speaking of a “unacceptable verbal slippage,” asked the radio station for the right to answer. She then published on Twitter images showing the bodies of victims of the Islamic State and adding: “ISIS is this!”
The French media immediately accused her of broadcasting “indecent” and “obscene” images, and shortly after that, the French government ordered the Department of Justice to indict her. On November 8, 2017 the French national assembly also lifted her parliamentary immunity.
A few months later, a judge mandated by the French government, charged Marine Le Pen with “disseminating violent images,” citing article 227-24 of the French Penal Code, which defines the crime of:
“… disseminating… a message of a violent nature, inciting terrorism, pornographic or likely to seriously violate human dignity or to incite minors to engage in games that physically endanger them, or to commercialize such a message.”
As part of the proceedings, Marine Le Pen received a letter from the court ordering her to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine if she is sane. She refused, saying that showing horrors committed by the Islamic State is not incitement to murder, and that pictures of victims of terrorism cannot be equated with pornography.
The court’s request indicates that the French authorities might be reviving the old Soviet use of “psychiatry” to silence dissidents or political opponents.
At the moment, Le Pen can be arrested anywhere, at any time and could face up to five years in prison.