France’s center-right presidential candidate Francois Fillon denounced on Saturday an “anti-Semitic” caricature of rival Emmanuel Macron put out by his own Les Républicains party.
The cartoon, quickly taken down after it was posted on the party’s Twitter account on Friday, depicted the centrist Macron, a former banker, with a hooked nose and top hat, carrying a red sickle with which he was cutting a cigar. Associates and supporters from the French left and center were shown around him.
Fillon, a former prime minister, has lagged in polls amid allegations that he had secured fictitious public service jobs for his wife and children.
He was scathing Saturday in his criticism of the cartoon.
“The fight is tough but it must remain dignified,” he said in a statement, vowing not to “tolerate that his own party is broadcasting caricatures containing the codes of anti-Semitic propaganda.”
He urged disciplinary measured be taken against any party officials responsible for the post.
From the Macron camp, the candidate’s spokesman Benjamin Griveaux called it “extremely worrying” that the caricature “draws on the anti-Semitic imagination.”
Faced with a public outcry over the cartoon, the Republicains party offered its “apologies” on Friday night and, just six hours after it had gone up, replaced the picture attached to the original tweet with a simple photo of Mr. Macron.
A poll published this weekend saw the centrist Macron in first place ahead of the first round of the French presidential election set for April 23, ahead of second-place far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. Fillon is in third place.