Europe’s largest technology conference withdrew an invitation for Marine Le Pen, leader of the French far-right National Rally party, to speak at its upcoming annual gathering.
The Web Summit is one of the world’s largest events for technology entrepreneurs, policymakers and experts. The upcoming edition in Lisbon in November had listed the controversial French politician among its speakers.
But conference organizer Paddy Cosgrave said on Twitter on Wednesday he had reconsidered the move and uninvited Le Pen.
“Based on advice we have received and the large reaction online overnight, her presence is disrespectful,” Cosgrave said.
“We are ambitious to be a recognised platform for rigorous debate. In recent years, we’ve added dedicated private and public stages specifically for robust dialogue on contentious and defining issues of our time. But we’ve still much to learn,” he said.
The decision came a day after Cosgrave defended his decision to put Le Pen on the speakers’ list. On Tuesday he published an extensive blogpost explaining why he was inviting fringe political figures like Le Pen to the gathering.
“Web Summit is a place where people should be prepared to have their opinions deeply challenged, and in turn to deeply challenge the opinions of others,” he then wrote.