French far-right leader Marine Le Pen ordered to take psychiatric exam

French far-right leader and former presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says she has been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation because she tweeted out graphic images of ISIS’s violence, including the execution of American journalist James Foley.

The court order appears to be part of a larger investigation into these tweets, which Le Pen sent in December 2015.

On Thursday, Le Pen tweeted: “For having condemned [ISIS] horrors in tweets, the ‘justice system’ is putting me through psychiatric tests! Just how far will they go?”

She also posted pictures of a court order on her Twitter feed, saying that the regime was really starting to become frightening.

Who is Le Pen, and why was she ordered to take a mental health evaluation?

Le Pen is the leader of France’s far-right party, which was founded by her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen. Formerly known as the National Front, the party was rebranded earlier this year as the National Rally.

Centrist French President Emmanuel Macron decisively defeated Marine Le Pen in the presidential elections last year, though she garnered around 34 percent of the vote.

The far-right politician rose to prominence in France on an anti-immigrant and anti-Islam platform, and she’s used terror attacks to amplify her message.

Le Pen sent the tweets currently under investigation shortly after the 2015 Paris terror attacks, which ISIS claimed responsibility for and which left at least 129 people dead.

Le Pen claims she was tweeting in response to a journalist who compared ISIS to her far-right party. Le Pen tweeted “Daesh is THIS” (Daesh is an Arabic acronym for ISIS) and a picture of man being burned alive in a cage, another of a man in an orange jumpsuit getting run over by a tank, and one of Foley’s execution, though she later removed the Foley tweet after objections from his family.

Le Pen was charged in March for violating a French law that prohibits promoting “violent messages that incite terrorism or pornography or seriously harm human dignity,” according to the Guardian.

In November 2017, the French Parliament lifted Le Pen’s legal immunity, which cleared the way for this investigation. She could face three years in prison and a hefty fine if she’s found guilty.

Her tweets prompted an investigation because of France’s controversial free speech laws. The country prohibits speech that could be seen as inciting violence or terrorism, which some critics have argued is applied too broadly.

Le Pen has criticized the charges against her, telling the AFP in March that she was being “charged for having condemned the horrors of Daesh,” adding that “in other countries this would have earned me a medal.” After posting the court documents, she told reporters she would skip the test, saying it was a tactic used by totalitarian regimes to make people look crazy.

Le Pen seems to be trying to leverage the ongoing investigation in order to promote herself as being politically persecuted. The psychological exam, however, is standard law in such speech investigations, so it’s unclear what will happen next.

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