Le Pen convicted of inciting race hatred

FRANCE'S highest court yesterday convicted the far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen of inciting racial hatred for telling a newspaper in 2003 that Muslims would one day run France and strike fear into the hearts of the non-Muslim population.

The ruling by the Court of Cassation came just over two years after Le Pen was originally convicted in the same case. In February 2005, an appeals court confirmed the 2004 ruling against the president of the National Front party.

Le Pen was ordered to pay a 10,000 (6,800) fine for his remarks in Le Monde and an additional 5,000 in damages and interest to the League of Human Rights, which had filed suit.

Le Pen's party blames Muslim immigrants for an array of social woes in France, which has western Europe's largest Muslim population. The National Front contends that Muslim immigrants are taking jobs from the French.

The National Front leader is looking to run in next year's presidential election.

In the 2003 interview Le Pen urged the French to beware of "the day in France when we have 25 million Muslims, not five million" - the estimated population of Muslims in France today - because "it is they who will command".