French police are investigating the nationalist leader Marine Le Pen for posting violent Islamic State images on her Twitter account.
The images included the body of the American journalist James Foley who was allegedly decapitated in August 2014. Other tweeted propaganda images include a man ran over by a tank and another set on fire in a cage.
Le Pen added the caption “Daesh is this,” using the Arabic word for the Islamic State. She has over 800,000 followers on Twitter.
Foley’s parents criticized Len Pen for sending out the photo said to be the decapitated body of their son. “We are deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of Jim for Le Pen’s political gain,” John and Diane Foley said in a statement.
— BFMTV (@BFMTV) December 16, 2015
Le Pen sent out the images in response to accusations by a television journalist that her party is comparable to the Islamic State. Jean-Jacques Bourdin said Len Pen’s National Front and the Islamic State share a “community of spirit.”
The prosecutor’s office in the western Paris suburb of Nanterre is investigating the popular political leader for “the dissemination of violent images.”
The images were removed on Thursday.
Le Pen said the images are readily available using the Google search engine. “I did not know it was a photograph of James Foley. It can be accessed by anyone on Google. I learned this morning that his family has asked for it to be removed and of course I took it down immediately,” she said.
Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve informed the police. He said the images were “a disgrace, an abomination and an absolute insult to all victims of… Daesh.”
In response, Le Pen challenged Cazeneuve to sue her for defaming the Islamic State.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Le Pen had insulted the victims by posting the images, which he called “monstrous.”
Earlier in the week Le Pen was acquitted of charges of inciting hatred when she criticized Muslims for praying in the streets.
“I’m sorry, but for those who like talking a lot about World War II, if it comes to talking about the occupation, we can talk about it, because that (Muslims praying on the street) is the occupation of territory,” she said in December, 2010.
“It is an occupation of part of the territory, suburbs where religious law is applied. Sure, there are no armored vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation nonetheless and it weighs on residents.”
France has one of the toughest hate speech laws in Europe. The law has been used against journalists, authors, filmmakers, newspapers and periodicals, including the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. In January Islamic terrorists stormed the office of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people.
Following the Paris attacks the French government expanded a 1955 state of emergency law without a parliamentary extension. The law allows authorities to impose house arrest without authorization from a judge, conduct searches without a judicial warrant, seize property and block websites deemed to glorify terrorism without prior judicial authorization, according to Human Rights Watch.
Prior to the COP 21 UN climate conference in late November, France used the emergency law to put two dozen activists under house arrest.