December 17, 2015 / 8:49 PM / 3 years ago

Mother of beheaded Islamic State hostage condemns French politician Le Pen's photo stunt

PARIS (Reuters) - The mother of James Foley, the American hostage beheaded on camera by Islamic State last year, said on Thursday she was angry at French far-right politician Marine Le Pen for posting a graphic photo depicting the act on social media.

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for the National Front in the Nord-Pas-de-Calais-Picardie region, reacts after results in the second-round the regional elections are announced in Henin-Beaumont, France, December 13, 2015. REUTERS/Yves Herman

The leader of the anti-immigration National Front (FN), which won almost a third of the votes in regional elections this month but is shunned as extremist by mainstream politicians, posted the photo on her Twitter account along with two others.

She did it to object to views voiced by an author, who said there were similarities between her party and Islamic State.

“This is #Daesh,” she said in the posting, using the pejorative Arabic term for the jihadist group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq and is being bombed by Western forces.

Among the photos was the beheaded corpse of a man in a prisoner-style orange tracksuit with his severed head placed on his chest.

“We are offended that awful image of our son’s brutal murder be used publicly,” Diana Foley said in an interview on Europe 1 radio. “To tweet it again just continues to promote their propaganda - the horrible way they recruit others who want to be brutal. I certainly do not want that to continue.”

Separately, in a joint statement with Foley’s father John tweeted by Nicolas Henin, a French journalist and former Islamic State captive, Diana Foley said: “We are deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of Jim for Le Pen’s political gain and hope that the picture of our son, along with two other graphic photographs, are taken down immediately.”

The beheading picture had vanished from Le Pen’s Twitter account on Thursday, but two others - one showing a prisoner being burned alive and the other a tank driving over another man in an orange tracksuit - were still there.

Le Pen told journalists she did not know one of the pictures was of Foley, adding that she removed it after the family asked her to do so. She did not say why she left the other two graphic pictures on her Twitter account.

A French prosecutor in Nanterre, west of Paris, opened a preliminary investigation into the publication of violent images, a spokesman said on Thursday.

Le Pen’s tweet was a response to a comment from Gilles Kepel, an academic who this week published a book called “Terror in the Hexagon (France)” about French-born jihadist militants.

In a radio interview, Kepel said that although Islamic State and the National Front were very different, there were similarities because of their politics of exclusion.

Le Pen has strived for years to make her anti-Europe, anti-immigrant party more mainstream. Seeking to soften the party’s image, she usually avoids the type of provocative acts that her father, FN founder Jean-Marie, relishes.

Reporting by Simon Carraud and Gerard Bon; Writing by Andrew Callus and Michel Rose; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Andrew Heavens

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