France’s far right National Front leader Marine Le Pen is facing criminal charges for inciting racism.
The French authorities opened a case against Marine Le Pen in 2011 after she likened the sight of Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France.
As a European Parliament member (MEP), Marine Le Pen enjoyed immunity from prosecution.
However, this protection was removed by a European parliamentary committee in a secret vote this week and it appears the vote to remove her immunity was “overwhelming”.
The vote will need to be ratified by the full parliament, but that’s expected to be a formality.
When the parliament’s legal affairs committee first tried to consider the case, Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far right National Front party, failed to turn up.
This week she sent a fellow French MEP in her place.
The move clears the way for the French authorities to pursue a case against the leader, who steered Marine Le Pen’s party to a record 18% showing in the first round of last year’s presidential election.
Marine Le Pen made the remarks at a party rally in 2010 in the southern French town of Lyon.
She said that Muslims using the streets to pray because mosques were overflowing was an “occupation” of French territory.
Praying in the streets was banned in Paris in 2011 in response to growing far right protests.
By some estimates, as many as six million French people, or just under 10% of the population, are Muslims, with origins in France’s former North African colonies.
Their integration has been a source of political debate in recent years, and earlier this year France became the first EU state to ban the wearing of the Islamic veil in public.