France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, above, has challenged a court order to undergo psychiatric evaluation for tweeting graphic images of three executions by the Islamic State (IS) group.
Le Pen said she would like to know how the investigating magistrate would force her submit to the assessment. Under French law, no one can force an individual to undergo psychiatric tests.
Le Pen, 50, leader of National Rally, sparked outrage in December 2015, soon after Islamic State jihadists killed 130 people in attacks in Paris, by sharing gruesome images of atrocities committed by the terrorist group elsewhere.
The provocation was a remark by a French journalist who compared her party, then called National Front, to Islamic State.
In France, it is illegal to share violent messages or images that incite terrorism, hurt human dignity and can be viewed by a minor.
Le Pen’s tweeted images included the body of beheaded American reporter, James Foley, a man in an orange jumpsuit being run over by a tank and a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.
Le Pen, a trained lawyer, said she shared the images on social media only to highlight the horrors committed by Islamic State and the absurdity of likening the dreaded group to her party.
How can the justice system call her act illegal and force her to submit herself to its psychiatric tests, Le Pen asked.
The court order is a plot to discredit and persecute her and it reflects methods employed by totalitarian regimes to make its opponents doubt their own sanity, she alleged.
The order dated September 11 called for urgent tests to determine whether Le Pen suffers from any mental illness and, if so, could that have made her tweet the violent images.
The prosecutor’s office said such tests are routine in cases involving the dissemination of violent messages.
That view was condemned by Len Pen’s father Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded National Front, and right-wing leaders abroad.
The insolence of some magistrates has no limits, her father said of the ruling.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini expressed his party’s solidarity with Len Pen and all French people who love liberty.
US President Donald Trump’s former adviser Steve Bannon, who is eyeing a pan-European right-wing movement, said forcing opponents to undergo psychiatric tests was a common tactic by totalitarian governments. It exposed the sickness of the regime and not its target, he said.
Even Le Pen’s fiercest critic Jean-Luc Melenchon of the leftist La France Insoumise (France Unbowed) party said such court orders cannot weaken the far right.
Le Pen, who has been stripped of her immunity as a parliamentarian earlier this year, could face a fine or jail if convicted.