Marine Le Pen's presence deemed 'disrespectful' at Web Summit

By Christina McSorley
BBC News NI

Published
image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMarine Le Pen has been un-invited to the Web Summit in Portugal

Marine Le Pen, the former French presidential candidate and leader of the National Rally political party, has been un-invited to one of Europe's largest technology conferences.

Ms Le Pen was listed on the Web Summit's website as a speaker for its conference in November.

Conference CEO Paddy Cosgrave initially defended giving Ms Le Pen a platform.

However, following an online backlash he said the correct decision "is to rescind Marine Le Pen's invitation."

In a blog post on Tuesday he said silencing "hate-filled voices" sometimes only served to "fuel the sense of marginalisation".

He added that the Web Summit is a place where people should "be prepared to have their opinions deeply challenged".

Mr Cosgrove said he disagreed with Ms Le Pen's views, but banning or ignoring the viewpoints of the far-right "is unlikely to address the roots of the rise" of the far-right groups across Europe.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionWeb Summit CEO Paddy Cosgrave initially declined to cancel Marine Le Pen's appearance at the conference as he didn't want the to conference to "shirk robust debate"

The conference, which has been running annually since 2009 brings together entrepreneurs, investors, policymakers, corporate leaders, and technology experts.

Originally held in Dublin, the conference controversially moved to Lisbon in 2015.

Just 24-hours after Mr Cosgrave's robust defence of having Ms Le Pen speak at the conference, he rescinded the French politician's invitation.

image copyrightTwitter/Paddy Cosgrave

In a series of tweets on Wednesday, Mr Cosgrave explained his u-turn.

He said Ms Le Pen's presence at the summit was "disrespectful" to some of the attendees and "disrespectful in particular to our host country".

Ms Le Pen is the leader of the far-right National Rally and challenged Emmanuel Macron in the 2017 French presidential race.

image copyrightAFP
image captionBefore last year's French elections Ms Le Pen was an MEP

The Web Summit is not without controversy.

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