Legal battle over Muslims' access to pork-free school lunches in France

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With the support of former president Nicolas Sarkozy, a right-wing mayor in eastern France is stopping the provision of alternative meals for Muslim pupils in his town's school canteens when pork is on the menu. Mediapart's Michaël Hajdenberg was in court to hear an attempt by a Muslim organisation to get this controversial decision stopped.

The reasons behind France's recurrent deadly floods

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Earlier this month, exceptional rainfall caused flash floods in south-east France that swept through the streets of towns and villages, killing 20 people and causing an estimated 500 million euros of damage. It was the latest in a long list of major catastrophic flooding disasters in the country over the past 27 years. As Michel de Pracontal reports, neither fate nor surprise events explain the causes, but rather the incapacity of public authorities to tackle the prevalent dangers, due in no small part to both rampant urbanisation and bureaucratic nonsense.

How Sarkozy's march back to power reached a blind alley

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 © Reuters © Reuters

Nicolas Sarkozy’s official return to politics last year, when he was elected head of his conservative opposition party, was, his supporters believed, the start of a relatively easy march back to power in elections due in 2017. But the wily former French president, once considered a masterful political tactician, appears to have lost his grip, unable to offer policy initiatives and mired in infighting and scandal. Ellen Salvi hears from party insiders in this analysis of where it has all gone wrong for the man who, a former aide admits, “wants to regain power for the sake of regaining power”.

The French internment camp that symbolizes the shameful fate of refugees

Arrivée de réfugiés espagnols fuyant Franco © Mémorial du camp de Rivesaltes Arrivée de réfugiés espagnols fuyant Franco © Mémorial du camp de Rivesaltes

Between 1941 and 1964, a total of 60,000 people were interned in a camp at Rivesaltes in south-west France, close to the border with Spain. The successive waves of internees included Spanish Republican refugees, Jews and Roma during the German occupation of France in World War II, and later Algerian Harki soldiers and their families who had sided with French forces during their country’s bitter war of independence. On Friday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls inaugurated a major memorial centre at the notorious camp and which highlights widespread political hypocrisy in face of the current refugee crisis. Nicolas Chevassus-au-Louis reports on the history of the camp and its belated memorial centre, a project of 17 years in the making.

Migration study finds dramatic rise in numbers leaving France

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The numbers of people leaving France to live abroad has risen dramatically over the past eight years in comparison to the numbers of those taking up residence in the country, according to a study published this week by the French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. The institute also found that immigration now accounts for a relatively small proportion of the growth in the French population. Michel de Pracontal reports.