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Geopolitics

New Leader Of Le Pen’s Party Accused Of Gas Chamber Denial

French journalist digs up troubling comments from 17 years ago by Jean-François Jalkh, who was just tapped to head the National Front party ahead of the May 7 presidential election.

National Front supporters rally in Henin-Beaumont on April 23
National Front supporters rally in Henin-Beaumont on April 23

PARIS — Far-right leader Marine Le Pen planned to spend the next two weeks trying to build her base, including more moderate voters, after clearing the first hurdle of the French election on Sunday. To do so, she announced that she would temporarily step down as leader of her National Front party, naming Jean-François Jalkh, the party's vice president, to take her place.

But a story has now surfaced that Jalkh had allegedly expressed doubts in the past that gas was used by the Nazis during the Holocaust. The comments, from an interview in 2000, surfaced Tuesday after a journalist from the Catholic daily La Croix tweeted a passage where Jalkh questioned whether Zyklon B was really used in the Holocaust gas chambers.

I stumbled onto this, concerning the new interim president of the FN!!!

The damning passage was published in Le Temps des Savoirs in 2005:

"... the use of gas, for example, called Zyklon B, I personally consider that on a technical point of view, it is impossible, clearly impossible, to use it in ... mass exterminations. Why? Because it takes days before decontaminating a room ... where one used Zyklon B."

Jalkh describes reading "the works of people who are deniers and revisionists," which surprised him for their "seriousness and rigor." It is unclear whether Jalkh was discussing his own beliefs or summarizing those of others.

Jalkh denies ever having made the comments, and the Le Pen campaign called the story "fabricated."

jalkh national front politics france

Jean-François Jalkh — Photo: Polomartini

However, researcher Magali Boumaza — now living in Istanbul — confirmed the accuracy of the quotes and claims to have recordings of the interview back in Paris: "I met Mr. Jalkh in April 2000 at the headquarters of the National Front," Boumaza told Libération. "The remarks in question represent three minutes of a three-hour interview."

Le Pen's National Front party has tried to distance itself from its anti-Semitism past. Last year, the party's founder (and Marine Le Pen's father) Jean-Marie Le Pen repeated remarks that the Holocaust was a "detail" of history. Le Pen senior, now 88, was subsequently forced out of National Front. In March, Benoît Loeuillet was suspended from the party after saying, "There were no mass deaths in the Nazi camps, as has been said." A month later, Marine Le Pen herself denied the French government's involvement in deporting Jews, saying it was the responsibility of Nazi occupiers.

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Coronavirus

Chinese Students' "Absurd" Protest Against COVID Lockdowns: Public Crawling

While street demonstrations have spread in China to protest the strict Zero-COVID regulations, some Chinese university students have taken up public acts of crawling to show what extended harsh lockdowns are doing to their mental state.

​Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling on a soccer pitch

Screenshot of a video showing Chinese students crawling

Shuyue Chen

Since last Friday, the world has watched a wave of street protests have taken place across China as frustration against extended lockdowns reached a boiling point. But even before protesters took to the streets, Chinese university students had begun a public demonstration that challenges and shames the state's zero-COVID rules in a different way: public displays of crawling, as a kind of absurdist expression of their repressed anger under three years of strict pandemic control.

Xin’s heart was beating fast as her knees reached the ground. It was her first time joining the strange scene at the university sports field, so she put on her hat and face mask to cover her identity.

Kneeling down, with her forearms supporting her body from the ground, Xin started crawling with three other girls as a group, within a larger demonstration of other small groups. As they crawled on, she felt the sense of fear and embarrassment start to disappear. It was replaced by a liberating sense of joy, which had been absent in her life as a university student in lockdown for so long.

Yes, crawling in public has become a popular activity among Chinese university students recently. There have been posters and videos of "volunteer crawling" across universities in China. At first, it was for the sake of "fun." Xin, like many who participated, thought it was a "cult-like ritual" in the beginning, but she changed her mind. "You don't care about anything when crawling, not thinking about the reason why, what the consequences are. You just enjoy it."

The reality out there for Chinese university students has been grim. For Xin, her university started daily COVID-19 testing in November, and deliveries, including food, are banned. Apart from the school gate, all exits have been padlock sealed.

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