At last the truth about France's use of torture in Algeria

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Maurice Audin, tortured and murdered by the French military. © DR Maurice Audin, tortured and murdered by the French military. © DR

French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday issued a landmark statement officially recognising for the first time the systematic use of torture by French forces during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence. The admission was made alongside a letter presented to the widow of Maurice Audin, a 25-year-old mathematician and militant for Algerian independence who disappeared after his arrest by the French military in 1957, and who Macron acknowledged had died after he was tortured in detention. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel sets out here why the move is as historically significant as the recognition in 1995 by then president Jacques Chirac of the responsibility of France in the deportation of Jews to German death camps during WWII, and why it may herald a reconciliation of sorts after six decades of denial.               

Gomorrah author Roberto Saviano on why ‘Italy is collapsing’

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Threatened but not silenced: Roberto Saviano. © C. Hélie Threatened but not silenced: Roberto Saviano. © C. Hélie

Italian journalist, author and essayist Roberto Saviano is best known outside of his country for his 2006 book Gomorrah, a detailed investigation exposing the activities of the Neapolitan mafia. It earned him worldwide acclaim, both for his journalism and his considerable courage, while the Camorra crime syndicate placed a price on his head. He has lived under permanent police protection ever since. But Saviano, 38, has also become a thorn in the side of Italy’s far-right interior minister (and deputy prime minister), Matteo Salvini, whose xenophobic, anti-migrant policies he regularly denounces – which alarmingly prompted Salvini to threaten to remove Saviano’s police protection. In this interview with Mediapart, Saviano details his appraisal of the Italian political scene and of Salvini, and slams European Union policies on immigration which he says has fuelled the rise to power of extremists.

Ex-minister seeks to justify cash payments in Libyan election funding affair

By and
Senior conservative MP Éric Woerth in the National Assembly on November 15th, 2017. © Reuters Senior conservative MP Éric Woerth in the National Assembly on November 15th, 2017. © Reuters

The former minister and current senior Member of Parliament Éric Woerth has been questioned by judges investigating claims that Nicolas Sarkozy's 2007 presidential election campaign was funded by Muammar Gaddafi's Libyan regime. Woerth, the treasurer of that campaign, sought to play down his role in handling envelopes stuffed full of cash at the election campaign headquarters. But according to a transcript of his evidence, seen by Mediapart, Woerth's explanations weakened his own defence. Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report

Economist Joseph Stiglitz: 'Europe is on the brink'

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Joseph Stiglitz in Mexico, June 2017. © Reuters Joseph Stiglitz in Mexico, June 2017. © Reuters

In an interview with Mediapart the celebrated Nobel Prize winner for economics, Joseph Stiglitz, says he is worried about the continuing pursuit of austerity policies in the Eurozone. The economist say he is concerned, too, about President Donald Trump's policies and the explosion in inequality since the financial crisis of 2008. More than ever, he tells Mediapart, there is a need for wages to rise, for better regulation of the financial world and for a war on huge “monopolies”. Mathieu Magnaudeix reports.

 

French government's curious silence over sports minister's resignation

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Former sports minister Laura Flessel with President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters Former sports minister Laura Flessel with President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters

When the former fencing champion Laura Flessel resigned as sports minister earlier this week her departure was initially put down simply to “personal reasons”. Later it emerged that she and her husband face a possible investigation over tax fraud in relation to a company they own. The government, however, has refused to say when it first became aware of possible issues over the minister's tax affairs. Antton Rouget investigates.

Moroccan police called in to deal with foreign youngsters on Paris streets

Police intervene in an altercation between Moroccan youths and a local trader in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, July 2018. © Rachida El Azzouzi Police intervene in an altercation between Moroccan youths and a local trader in the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, July 2018. © Rachida El Azzouzi

Dozens of Moroccan youths roam the Goutte d'Or district of Paris, where they are both the authors and victims of violence and have been making life a misery for local inhabitants. Unable to cope, over the summer the French authorities called on Moroccan police officers to help arrange possible repatriation of some of the youngsters. Rachida El Azzouzi and Mathilde Mathieu report on a policy that has alarmed some local support groups.

The French presidential system: its courtiers and cretinous nature

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After the resignation of his high-profile and popular environment minister – which exposed the gulf between the presidency and wider society – President Emmanuel Macron made a declaration and a decision which then widened that gap still further. The decision was the nomination of a close friend, the writer Philippe Besson, as France's consul general in Los Angeles. The declaration was his criticism of his own people as “Gauls who are resistant to change”. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel looks at what these recent episodes say about the state of France's outmoded presidential system.

Macron security aide affair: Alexandre Benalla says he concealed evidence

Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, in March 2017,  Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Alexandre Benalla, visits the town where writer Alexandre Dumas was born. © Reuters Villers-Cotterets, north-east of Paris, in March 2017, Emmanuel Macron, accompanied by Alexandre Benalla, visits the town where writer Alexandre Dumas was born. © Reuters

Paris prosecutors have refused to broaden the scope of the investigation of the Alexandre Benalla affair into claims that evidence in the case was concealed. This is despite the fact that, according to documents seen by Mediapart, President Emmanuel Macron's former security aide himself claimed that he had arranged for evidence to be hidden. The affair concerns claims – backed by video footage – that Benalla and another official unlawfully took part in the arrest of a May Day demonstrator in a Paris park earlier this year. Pascale Pascariello, Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske report.

How Nicolas Hulot resignation completes bad summer for President Macron

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Nicolas Hulot and President Emmanuel Macron in October 2017. © Reuters Nicolas Hulot and President Emmanuel Macron in October 2017. © Reuters

The Benalla affair, which involved the French president's security aide, caused political damage to Emmanuel Macron at the start of France's summer break. The head of state hoped that the post-holiday resumption of political daily life would allow him to regain control of events. But following the shock resignation of his high-profile environment minister Nicolas Hulot, and with economic growth in France set to be lower than forecast this year, Macron seems once again at the mercy of events. Ellen Salvi analyses the French president's woes.

Why Hulot's resignation is a salutary turning point

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Nicolas Hulot addressing French parliament in September 2017. © Stéphane Mahé/Reuters Nicolas Hulot addressing French parliament in September 2017. © Stéphane Mahé/Reuters

French environment minister Nicolas Hulot dramatically resigned from government on Tuesday, announcing his surprise decision during a live radio interview. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that it represents a salutary electroshock that highlights the impasse of economic policies leading to an ecological catastrophe, and also puts an end to the illusion that the will of a supposedly providential man alone can bring about a sudden turnaround in approach to environmental issues. Hulot’s resignation, he says, resonates as a call for society to mobilise itself in favour of a veritable political alternative.       

The persecution of Myanmar's Muslims

By Guillaume Pajot
Displaced Rohingya demonstrating in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on August 25th. © Reuters Displaced Rohingya demonstrating in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on August 25th. © Reuters

A United Nations report has called for Myanmar’s military to be investigated for genocide against the Rohingya people and for crimes against humanity in the treatment of minority groups in the country. The news follows demonstrations this weekend calling for UN action over the crisis by tens of thousands of Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 of the stateless Muslim people have fled since they became the target of a campaign of killings and repression launched in August 2017. As Guillaume Pajot reports from Myanmar, the persecution of Muslims is not limited to the Rohingya, but is widespread in the country whose de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is accused of doing little to prevent.

When France's laws on secularism don't apply to all

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Conservative councillors attending Catholic ceremonies in Lourdes wearing their official sashes. © Facebook Conservative councillors attending Catholic ceremonies in Lourdes wearing their official sashes. © Facebook

The French constitution sets out that "France is an indivisible, secular, democratic and social Republic”, and the country’s strict laws upholding the secular nature of the state and its institutions, including a ban on the wearing of religious dress and symbols in state educational establishments or by public employees, have been at the centre of tensions with members of the Muslim community. But a recent incident involving members of the council of the south-west city of Toulouse demonstrate that for some politicians, the rules of secularity are bendable according to one’s religion. Emmanuel Riondé reports from Toulouse.  

The Catholic fundamentalists in the shadows of France's far-right

By Nicolas Lebourg
Civitas chairman Alain Escada (centre) at a protest in front of the French parliament against the introduction of the same-sex marriage law, January 2013. © Reuters Civitas chairman Alain Escada (centre) at a protest in front of the French parliament against the introduction of the same-sex marriage law, January 2013. © Reuters

A party of Catholic fundamentalists, Civitas is one of France’s lesser-known far-right movements, overshadowed by the former Front National (now renamed the National Rally) led by Marine Le Pen. It wants to ban abortion, same-sex marriage and freemasonry, to repeal a 1905 law separating the Church and State and also anti-racist legislation, and takes as its model the regimes of General Franco in Spain and General Pinochet in Chile. After years as a pressure group, it officially became a political party in 2016, and this month held its annual summer conference on the theme of “Human rights versus the real country”. Here, historian Nicolas Lebourg traces its history and analyses its future prospects.

The story of the Paris Communards and Algerian rebels deported to New Caledonia

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A postcard view of the notorious New Caledonia penal colony at Île Nou. © DR A postcard view of the notorious New Caledonia penal colony at Île Nou. © DR

The French overseas territory of New Caledonia will hold a referendum on November 4th to decide whether the South Pacific archipelago should opt for self-rule. It comes after a 30-year political process to ease continuing high tensions between pro-independence militants from the indigenous Kanak population and the community of ethnic Europeans. The territory has a chequered and often violent history since it became a French possession in 1853, which Mediapart is charting this summer in a series of articles which examine the construction of what was a most singular colonial project. Here, Lucie Delaporte returns to the story of how the defeated militants of the 1871 Paris Commune were deported to New Caledonia alongside Algerian tribesmen who led one of the first major revolts against French rule in Algeria.

Unions promise turbulence for Air France's new Canadian CEO

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Benjamin Smith, newly appointed CEO of Air France-KLM. © Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne Benjamin Smith, newly appointed CEO of Air France-KLM. © Reuters/Clodagh Kilcoyne

The appointment on Thursday of Air Canada COO Benjamin Smith as the new boss of Air France-KLM has been met with uproar among staff unions at the French arm of the group. They have fiercely protested the nomination of a foreigner at the helm of Air France, which they allege was driven by group shareholder Delta Airlines, but also the size of his remuneration package, well above that of his predecessor, and what they see as a plan to weaken Air France’s operations in favour of KLM. Mathilde Goanec reports on the furore which promises a turbulent touchdown for Smith next month.