French mayor shuts down Holocaust exhibition deemed elections propaganda

(JTA) – A French mayor closed down an exhibition on the Holocaust at the urging of far-right politicians from the National Front party, who said it constituted illicit campaigning near a ballot on elections day.

Gilbert Lorho, the mayor of the town of Ploeren, which is located approximately 280 miles west of Paris, ordered the closure of the exhibition on police officers who saved Jews during the Holocaust on May 7, the day when millions of Frenchmen participated in the final round of the presidential elections.

Emmanuel Macron, a centrist candidate, handily won the runoff against Marine Le Pen of the National Front.

Bertrand Iragne, a local activist for National Front, requested the exposition be shuttered because of its proximity to a ballot, he told Marianne in an interview published Tuesday. This, he said, violated laws on the political neutrality of voting stations.

Asked how an exhibition on the Holocaust  did this, he replied: ”The media have circulated the idea that we are the new Nazis,” he said of his party, which was founded by the Holocaust denier Jean-Marie Le Pen, who is Marine Le Pen’s father and has multiple convictions for inciting racial hatred of Jews.

He added that generally speaking he “welcomes” an exhibition on the Holocaust. But the exhibition also featured pictured of Simone Veil, a Jewish French politician who served under the socialist former president François Mitterrand.

Lorho told the publication Marianne he ordered the temporary shuttering of the exhibition to “avoid unnecessary conflict” during the election.

 

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