The leader of France's far-right National Front party, Marine Le Pen, was stripped of her parliamentary immunity, opening the way for charges of inciting racial hatred to be laid against her.
Le Pen, 44, is a member of the European Parliament, which lifted her immunity at the request of a French prosecutor who wants to place her under investigation after she compared the holding of Muslim street prayers with the Nazi "occupation" of France.
The far-right leader repeated her comments, first made in 2010 in Lyon, on Monday. Anticipating the MEPs' decision, which she had expected after an earlier committee decision to lift her immunity, Ms Le Pen said she was a "dissident" and defended her "freedom of speech".
"I'm going to defend myself before the court and I'm absolutely convinced that the court will rule in my favor and protect my right to say to the French the truth about the situation, notably prayers in the streets but not only that," Le Pen said during an interview on BFM, a French television channel.
In the speech under investigation, Le Pen said France had "more and more veils," and "more and more burkas." Then she said: "For those who like to talk about world war two, to talk about occupation, we could talk about, for once, the occupation of our territory. There are no armored vehicles, no soldiers, but it is an occupation all the same."
With Tuesday's ruling, it appears Le Pen is following in her father's footsteps. Jean-Marie Le Pen, who also led the Front National party, was convicted of racism and lost his European Parliament immunity in 1997.
Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team