The daughter of French far-right leader Jean-Marie Le Pen was under fire Sunday for comparing Muslims praying in the streets outside overcrowded mosques in France to the Nazi occupation.
Marine Le Pen said Friday at a rally of the anti-immigrant National Front that there were "ten to fifteen" places in France where Muslims worshipped in the streets outside mosques when these were full.
"For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it's about occupation, then we could also talk about it (Muslim prayers in the streets), because that is occupation of territory," she said at the gathering in Lyon.
"It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. It's an occupation," she said at the rally that was part of her bid to take the party leadership when her father steps down in January.
"There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents," the 42-year-old noted.
The comments sparked condemnation from politicians from President Nicolas Sarkozy's ruling UMP party and from the opposition Socialists and the Greens.
"This is the true face of the far right which has not changed in the slightest, and Marine Le Pen is just as dangerous as Jean-Marie Le Pen," Socialist Party spokesman Benoit Hamon said Saturday.
On Sunday locals in the Goutte d'Or district said they were well used to comments like Le Pen's.
"Most Muslims feel threatened. They won't leave us alone," said a grocery store worker who gave his name as Hakim.
"With the cold and the dirt, we'd love to have a clean hall to pray in but we don't have the choice," said Walid Ben, who works in a fabric shop in the area.
"I understand that it bothers people (if Muslims pray in the streets) but what solution is Marine Le Pen proposing?" he asked.