A French criminal court Thursday acquitted right-wing politician Jean-Marie Le Pen of charges of incitement against Muslims during a regional election campaign earlier in the year.
Human rights groups had filed a suit against the 81-year-old Le Pen, currently a deputy in the European Parliament, accusing him of religious incitement over a campaign poster of his National Front (FN) party last March.
The poster bore the message ‘no to Islamism’ and depicted a fully-veiled woman in front of a map of France, the Algerian national flag, and a missile resembling a minaret.
At the time, a court in Marseille, acting on complaints, ordered the posters to be removed.
In a hearing on October 28, prosecutors demanded a one-year suspension of Le Pen’s right stand for election, a two-month suspended jail term and a fine of 20,000 euros (27,000 dollars).
Le Pen’s defence argued successfully in court that the poster was not directed against Islam as a whole, but rather Islamism and that the suit had wrongly targeted him, instead of the FN.