The French far right leader, Marine Le Pen, has lost her parliamentary immunity.
She could now face criminal charges for inciting racism following the removal of her protection against prosecution by a secret European parliamentary committee vote this week.
As a European Parliament member, she enjoyed immunity from prosecution but was stripped of it by the overwhelming vote.
While the decision will now need to be ratified by the full parliament, French authorities may soon be able to pursue a case against the leader, who pushed her party to a record 18% showing in the first round of last year’s presidential election.
The parliament’s legal affairs committee has been trying to launch a case against Le Pen, who, in 2010, likened the sight of Muslims praying in the streets to the Nazi occupation of France.
She told a party rally in the southern French town of Lyon that Muslims using the streets to pray because mosques were overflowing was an “occupation” of French territory.
Praying in the streets was banned in Paris in 2011 in response to far right protests, which in part were led by Ms Le Pen’s party.
As many as six million people in France are Muslims, many of them from France’s former North African colonies.