The founder of France's resurgent National Front was accused of spreading 'anti-Semitic filth' today as it was plunged into another hate row.
Jean-Marie Le Pen's far right party is officially the most popular in the country, after winning 25 per cent of the national vote in European Parliament elections last month.
Mr Le Pen was re-elected as an MEP, but this did not stop him making a pun referring to the Nazi gas chambers during World War II.
Jean-Marie Le Pen was criticsed by Jewish groups and prominent members of his own party over the weekend for the comment made in a video posted on the National Front's website on Friday
In a video posted on the National Front (FN) website, and posted on YouTube, the 85-year-old attacks a number of the party's critics, including pop star Madonna.
When asked about another - the Jewish singer Patrick Bruel - Mr Le Pen said he would be part of a 'batch next time', while hinting at the word 'oven'.
Thousands of French Jews were entrained to German concentration camps during the war, where most were murdered.
This horrific process was often grimly likened to 'batches' of people being sent away to Nazi 'ovens'.
Marine Le Pen (pictured, right, in 2011) said her father (left) had made a 'political error' but that the 'meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation'
A spokesman for SOS Racism, a leading Paris civil rights group, described Mr Le Pen's pun as 'the worst kind of anti-Semitic filth'.
He said the group would file a legal complaint against Mr Le Pen, who already has numerous convictions for racism and anti-Semitism, this week.
When asked about one of his party's critics - the Jewish singer Patrick Bruel (pictured) - Mr Le Pen said he would be part of a 'batch next time', while hinting at the word 'oven'
France's Movement Against Racism and for Friendship Between Peoples, also said it would lodge a complaint, calling Mr Le Pen 'an authentic anti-Semite'.
Mr Le Pen handed over the reins of the FN to his daughter, Marine Le Pen, in 2011, and she has pledged to soften its image.
Although Mr Le Pen retains significant influence, and Ms Le Pen remains very loyal to him, other party members attacked him today.
FN vice president Louis Aliot, who lives with Ms Le Pen, said it was 'a bad phrase' which was also 'politically stupid and disappointing'.
Gilbert Collard, an FN affiliated MP, said it was time for the party founder to 'accept (Mr Le Pen's) retirement'.
Ms Le Pen said her father had made a 'political error' but that the 'meaning given to his comments is a malicious interpretation.'
In turn, Mr Le Pen said: 'If there are people in my camp that have interpreted my comments in this way, they are nothing but imbeciles.'
He denied being anti-Jewish, saying the words he used had 'no anti-Semitic connotation', except for 'political enemies or idiots'. He made it clear that the offending video had now been removed from the web.
Mr Le Pen, who once described the Nazi gas chambers as a 'detail' of history, was runner up in the French presidential elections of 2002.