A Paris musician's story: 'I got rid of everything Asian-related so I'd seem as white as possible'

By Léa Dang
Céline in the living room of the family home at Redon, Brittany, January 12th 2023; behind her is a portrait of her grandmother. © Photo Louise Quignon pour Mediapart Céline in the living room of the family home at Redon, Brittany, January 12th 2023; behind her is a portrait of her grandmother. © Photo Louise Quignon pour Mediapart

As part of Mediapart's ongoing series about everyday hate in France, Céline, aged 24, who is now a musician in Paris, and who was born in France to a French father and a Mongolian mother, describes how she suffered from racism during her childhood in the west of the country. The harm was caused, she says, by racism in general and prejudices about women of Asian origin in particular, prejudices linked to the hyper-sexualisation and fetishization of the body. Léa Dang reports.

French minister in charge of pension reforms faces possible trial over 'favouritism' to water firm

Labour minister Olivier Dussopt setting out the pension reforms on January 23rd 2023. © Photo Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas via AFP Labour minister Olivier Dussopt setting out the pension reforms on January 23rd 2023. © Photo Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas via AFP

France's labour minister Olivier Dussopt, the politician in the front line over the explosive issue of pension reform, could face a criminal trial over his dealings with a major French water firm, Mediapart can reveal. The minister has just received a damning report from the financial crimes prosecution unit, the Parquet National Financier (PNF), which suspects him of 'favouritism' in relation to the SAUR group. The news that the minister could stand trial comes at the worst possible time for the government which is facing huge protests over its controversial pension reforms. Fabrice Arfi, Antton Rouget, Ellen Salvi and Marine Turchi report.

How art is a 'tax haven' for the wealthy in France

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Claude Berri , top left, François de Ricqlès, bottom left, a Giacometti bust, centre, and the Ministry of Finance top right. © Montage Simon Toupet/Mediapart Claude Berri , top left, François de Ricqlès, bottom left, a Giacometti bust, centre, and the Ministry of Finance top right. © Montage Simon Toupet/Mediapart

The judicial authorities are investigating what could turn out to be one of the biggest cases yet seen in France involving the hiding of artworks from a deceased person's estate to reduce inheritance tax. The case, which follows the death more than a decade ago of the great French film-maker Claude Berri, shows gaping weaknesses in the French system when it comes to scrutinising this area of taxation. Now a Member of Parliament is calling for a national register to be set up to record who owns works of art in the country – a system similar to what currently exists with car ownership. Fabrice Arfi reports.

Evidence and lies: latest revelations as Gaddafi-Sarkozy funding probe awaits outcome

By and
Muammar Gaddafi,  Nicolas Sarkozy, Thierry Gaubert, Brice Hortefeux, Éric Woerth, Claude Guéant, Ziad Takieddine. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP Muammar Gaddafi, Nicolas Sarkozy, Thierry Gaubert, Brice Hortefeux, Éric Woerth, Claude Guéant, Ziad Takieddine. © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart avec AFP

Mediapart can reveal the latest developments that allowed judges to wrap up the Sarkozy-Libyan funding affair probe after nine long years of investigation. Those who are under investigation in the case, including former president Nicolas Sarkozy, now face the possibility of being sent to trial at a criminal court in Paris. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

How we found a lost French army torture farm hidden in Algiers

By Malika Rahal and Fabrice Riceputi
House of horror: the Perrin farm. © Malika Rahal House of horror: the Perrin farm. © Malika Rahal

French historians Malika Rahal and Fabrice Riceputi are specialised in researching the events of the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence, and notably the kidnaps, detention, torture and disappearances of pro-independence militants at the hands of the French army. They lead a project to trace the fate of thousands of people who disappeared during the 1957 Battle of Algiers, when France’s military led a bloody, months-long campaign to dislodge independence fighters and sympathisers in the French colony’s capital. When in Algiers late last year to continue their research, the historians made the chance and revealing discovery of the site of a former colonial farm used by the military to torture and kill detainees. This is their story.

Why the French government must drop its brutal and unfair pension reforms

The demonstration held against the pension reforms in Paris on January 19th 2023. © Photo Marie Magnin pour Mediapart The demonstration held against the pension reforms in Paris on January 19th 2023. © Photo Marie Magnin pour Mediapart

The pension changes proposed by President Emmanuel Macron – the fourth reform in twenty years and which in this case will push the retirement age back from 62 to 64 - will leave no one better off. The demonstrators who have taken to the streets on January 19th and January 31st have fully grasped that point, say Mediapart's Stéphane Alliès, Carine Fouteau and Dan Israel in this op-ed article. They argue that the stubbornness shown by the government, which looks set to force the reforms through the French Parliament, represents a danger to democracy.

French prosecutors probe fossil fuel giant TotalEnergies over ‘greenwashing’

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The worldwide headquarters of TotalEnergies at La Défence, close to Paris. © Photo Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP The worldwide headquarters of TotalEnergies at La Défence, close to Paris. © Photo Xose Bouzas / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

In what is the first legal move of its kind in France, oil and gas and giant TotalEnergies, the former Total, is the subject of an investigation by French public prosecutors which was opened after three NGOs filed a complaint accusing the group of “misleading commercial practices”. The complaint centres on the multinational’s claims over its credentials in policies for environmental protection and the limiting of global warming, including being a “major player” in energy transition, which the NGOs say amounts to deliberately deceptive “greenwashing”. Mickaël Correia reports.

Fears raised over use of AI in video surveillance of 2024 Paris Olympics

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A video surveillance control room in Strasbourg, eastern France. © Abdesslam Mirdass / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP A video surveillance control room in Strasbourg, eastern France. © Abdesslam Mirdass / Hans Lucas / Hans Lucas via AFP

The French parliament is currently debating draft legislation on special measures the government is seeking to introduce for the Olympic and Paralympic Games to be held in France in 2024. While these contain relatively uncontroversial moves like the lifting of restrictions on Sunday shopping and tougher fines for trouble-makers at sporting events, they also include the “experimental” introduction of algorithmic video surveillance of the public, a technology that is strongly opposed by a number of rights groups and legal experts. Jérôme Hourdeaux reports.

EU court forces France to end use of ‘bee killer’ insecticide

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A demonstration in Paris against the use of neonicotinoids, January 20th 2023. © Photo Bertrand Guay / AFP A demonstration in Paris against the use of neonicotinoids, January 20th 2023. © Photo Bertrand Guay / AFP

French agriculture minister Marc Fesneau has announced the end of a controversial exemption granted to sugar beet producers to use a family of insecticides dubbed “bee killers” and which were banned by the European Union in 2018. The move follows a ruling last week by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s supreme court, which outlaws member states from any further use of a legal loophole which allowed for "emergency" dispensation from the ban on neonicotinoids, which scientific studies have linked to a collapse of colonies of honey bees and other pollinators, and also bird populations. Amélie Poinssot reports.

Judge leading EU parliament corruption probe warns of the growing power of 'dirty money'

Belgian judge Michel Claise. © Photo Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart Belgian judge Michel Claise. © Photo Rachida El Azzouzi / Mediapart

Belgian judge Michel Claise is leading the investigation into the snowballing corruption scandal rocking the European Parliament in Brussels, and which has already led to the downfall and imprisonment of a now former vice president of the chamber. In this interview with Mediapart, the veteran investigating magistrate, specialised in financial crime, details the extent to which corruption and organised crime are out of control in Europe, and slams the lack of resources to fight it. “When you touch on dirty money, and when that involves the political world, people become transformed into wild animals,” he says.

Why Macron's pensions reform push threatens a political time bomb

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Emmanuel Macron, pictured at the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14th 2022. © Photo Jacques Witt / Pool / Abaca Emmanuel Macron, pictured at the Bastille Day parade in Paris on July 14th 2022. © Photo Jacques Witt / Pool / Abaca

Nationwide strike action and mass demonstrations were held in France on Thursday in opposition to Emmanuel Macron’s reform of the French pensions system, which includes raising the age of retirement on full pension rights from 62 to 64. The government appears to hope that what its spokesman called the “weariness” of the population, amid galloping inflation and the hike in energy costs, will see the protests over its reform peter out. Ellen Salvi reports on how the president’s strategy has led to a weakening of public debate and a disintegration of social democracy, and why a victory for his reform would threaten to set a time bomb ticking in the ballot box.

'Rafale Papers': how France's anti-corruption agency covered up for aviation firm Dassault

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Chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Aviation, Éric Tappier, in 2015. © Boris Horvat / AFP Chairman and chief executive officer of Dassault Aviation, Éric Tappier, in 2015. © Boris Horvat / AFP

France's anti-corruption watchdog wrote a damning report after a lengthy inspection of French defence and aviation company Dassault. The report from the Agence Française Anticorruption highlighted five breaches of the law and signs of possible corruption in the firm's dealings in India, where it sold 36 Rafale fighter jets for 7.8 billion euros. Yet as Yann Philippin reports, the agency did not propose any punishment and nor did it alert French prosecutors to its findings.

How the roots of France's 'superiority complex' may lie in the Middle Ages

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The originator of French national pride? Philip IV known as 'Philip the Fair', who ruled 1285-1314. The originator of French national pride? Philip IV known as 'Philip the Fair', who ruled 1285-1314.

Historian Jacques Krynen argues that French national pride and the country's sense of “superiority” have been passed down the ages and through various types of government and regimes to the modern era. And the legal historian believes its origins are to be found at the end of the 13th and the start of the 14th centuries, when Philip IV – better known to history as 'Philip the Fair' – was king of France. Fabien Escalona reports.

French Left takes united stance against Macron's pension reform plans

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Meeting of various groups from the French Left against the pension reforms, at a gathering organised by independent media Reporterre and 'Fakir' in Paris, January 10th 2023. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart Meeting of various groups from the French Left against the pension reforms, at a gathering organised by independent media Reporterre and 'Fakir' in Paris, January 10th 2023. © Photo Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

On January 10th, Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne formally unveiled President Emmanuel Macron's plans to reform the pension system, the key plank of which is to raise the legal age of retirement in France from 62 to 64 by 2030. Almost immediately trade unions announced a day of strikes and protest on January 19th. Meanwhile prominent figures on the French Left attended a political meeting arranged by independent media Reporterre and 'Fakir', to demonstrate their anger towards the reforms. As Mathieu Dejean reports, the need for unity was a theme of the evening, with calls for the Left to remain united against the proposals – and on other issues – heavily applauded by the audience.

Nicolas Sarkozy, his praise for Putin, and a trail of Kremlin money

By and
 © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart © Photo illustration Sébastien Calvet / Mediapart

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy received 300,000 euros during a period in which he attended a 2018 gathering in Moscow that was organised by the Russian state's main sovereign wealth fund, and at which he praised his “friend” Vladimir Putin. The money was paid by a company which bears the same name as a subsidiary of that sovereign fund. Fabrice Arfi and Yann Philippin report.