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France's far-right party suing Madonna over swastika

U.S. pop singer Madonna performs during a concert for her MDNA world tour at the Stade de France Stadium in Saint-Denis, near Paris.

BENOIT TESSIER/Reuters

France's far-right National Front said Sunday it plans to sue Madonna over a video at the U.S. pop star's concert in France showing party leader Marine Le Pen with a swastika on her forehead.

"We cannot accept such an odious comparison," National Front vice-president Florian Philippot said, adding that the legal action would be filed this week.

The video, which served as a backdrop for Madonna's performance of the song Nobody Knows Me, flashed a picture of Ms. Le Pen's forehead superimposed with a swastika, followed by an image resembling Nazi leader Adolf Hitler.

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There was an audible gasp from the audience at the Stade de France on Saturday when the image of Ms. Le Pen appeared briefly on a giant screen in a video clip which also showed Madonna's face merging with that of a number of public figures including Pope Benedict XVI and toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.

The face of the National Front leader appears for a few seconds, with the Fascist symbol briefly imposed on it, and is followed by the features of a man resembling Hitler.

The video has already been used on other legs of the U.S. singer's tour.

"Projecting such an image of Marine Le Pen with a swastika implies that she is a Nazi," National Front lawyer Wallerand de Saint-Just told AFP, adding that the civil complaint for insult would be lodged with a court this week.

Tour promoter LiveNation declined to comment on the National Front action against the queen of pop, who has been no stranger to controversy during her long career.

"This is just another provocation in Madonna's world tour so that people will talk about her," Mr. Philippot charged, claiming that the stadium was "far from full" for Madonna's gig and that the tour was a "fiasco."

"Marine Le Pen will defend not only her own honour," he added, "but her supporters and the millions of National Front voters."

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Ms. Le Pen, a member of the European Parliament, placed third in the presidential elections in France earlier this year. She had already warned the U.S. superstar in June that she was mulling legal action, after the video was shown at a Tel Aviv gig in May when Madonna, 53, kicked off her world tour.

"[When] old singers want to get people to talk about them, it's understandable that they do such extreme things," the 43-year-old Ms. Le Pen said at the time.

The French rights group, SOS Racisme, said it supported Madonna, however, paying tribute to her "resolutely anti-racist" stance. "She made clear last night that the fight against discrimination is a fundamental battle," the group said.

About 70,000 people were at the Stade de France to watch the Material Girl perform on Saturday night.

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