The founder of France's ultra nationalist right-wing National Front party is suing a man who took a selfie with him while he was asleep on a flight, claiming the photo contributed to his party's defeat in regional elections last month.
Brahim Zaibat, an ex-boyfriend of Madonna's, was on a domestic flight Dec. 12, when he realized he was sitting right behind Jean-Marie Le Pen, who founded the National Front in the 1970s and has become known for his xenophobic views over the years.
Zaibat took a rather unflattering photo of Le Pen asleep and posted it with the message, "Knock them out by all going to vote. To preserve our French brotherhood #imlovinit":
Last year, Le Pen was stood down from the leadership of the party after making anti-Semetic comments, with the New York Times writing that thought the party had been trying to step away from its extreme right roots, Le Pen continued to express his xenophobic beliefs, including that the Nazi gas chambers were just a "detail" in history. His daughter, Marine Le Pen, is the current leader of the party and immediately distanced herself and the party from those comments.
The day after Zaibat posted the photo, the National Front failed to win any seats in the second round of regional elections, the Telegraph reports. Le Pen is claiming that the photo damaged his image and played a large part in the National Front's electoral defeat, according to French publication Public magazine. He's suing Zaibat for the equivalent of $40,167 and demanding a public apology from the dancer, the magazine writes. French website Rue 89 contacted the elder Le Pen, who confirmed that he is indeed suing Zaibat. "Do you find it normal to be photographed while sleeping on a plane?" he told the website. "The court will decide. This is my private life and I will protect myself from this kind of behavior."
Some responses to the photo on Facebook were gleeful:
"Ha this photo is magnificicent, so great to see this child of immigrants laughing in joy, it really warms my heart.” wrote one commenter, Issa Isaac Ba. "Long live France and France will never be a land of the extreme right."
“Huge. Fraternal France. Without hate or extremism. Vote! Vote democracy!" wrote another commenter, Thierry Veran.
The case will go before a court on Jan. 12, reports Public magazine.