How President Macron lost his economic gamble over Covid

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Lost gamble? Economy minister Bruno Le Maire and President Emmanuel Macron. © Yoan VALAT / POOL / AFP Lost gamble? Economy minister Bruno Le Maire and President Emmanuel Macron. © Yoan VALAT / POOL / AFP

President Emmanuel Macron is said to have taken a “gamble” over health restrictions by not locking down France for the third time when the number of Covid-19 cases started rising once more in January. But the head of state has also gambled on the economy too. The French government thought that it could moderate the impact of the epidemic on economic activity through more limited but longer term restrictions. But as Romaric Godin reports, the French “economic resistance” proclaimed by the government could well turn out to be a painful illusion for the country and its public.

The French teachers living in 'daily fear' as number of Covid cases in schools grows

The number of Covid cases found in French schools, week by week. The number of Covid cases found in French schools, week by week.

There has been exponential growth in the number of Covid-19 cases in French schools, both among pupils and staff, and some teaching personnel have become seriously ill as a result. Though the education minister has just announced a further toughening of the health protocols to tackle the virus in schools, some teachers fear the ministry is still “in denial” over the scale of the problem they are facing. One teaching union is now calling on members to take strike action. Ismaël Bine and Caroline Coq-Chodorge report.

How the notion of France's long-cherished 'Republic' has been hijacked

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 © Mediapart © Mediapart

The word 'Republican' has a hugely positive place in the French collective memory. But recently the concept has come to be used – and abused - as a form of political shorthand to tell people to obey the rules. Mediapart's Fabien Escalona talks to French academics about the shifting meaning of the concept and how it is now cited more to protect existing privileges rather than to extend safeguards and rights to new groups.

Council funding of Strasbourg mosque provokes row with French interior minister

By Guillaume Krempp and Jean-François Gérard (Rue 89 Strasbourg)
Work began on the Eyüp Sultan mosque in Strasbourg in 2015 and is still continuing. © Guillaume Krempp/Rue89 Strasbourg Work began on the Eyüp Sultan mosque in Strasbourg in 2015 and is still continuing. © Guillaume Krempp/Rue89 Strasbourg

Councillors in Strasbourg have just voted through a 2.5 million euro grant to help build a new mosque in the city in north-east France, a region where unlike the rest of the country the law permits local authorities to fund religious buildings. However, the move by the Green-run council immediately attracted the ire of France's interior minister Gérald Darmanin because the group behind the mosque, Confédération Islamique Milli Görüs (CIMG), is a Franco-Turkish association which has refused to sign the government's new “charter of principles” for Islam in France. The minister, who is championing the government's new law against 'separatism', is now threatening legal action. Report by Guillaume Krempp and Jean-François Gérard of Mediapart's partners in the city, Rue 89 Strasbourg.

Rafale jets sale to India: Macron, Hollande and the blind eye of France's anti-corruption services

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French President Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor François Hollande at the Élysée Palace in September 2017. © Julien Mattia / NurPhoto via AFP French President Emmanuel Macron and his predecessor François Hollande at the Élysée Palace in September 2017. © Julien Mattia / NurPhoto via AFP

In this second of a three-part series of investigations into the controversial sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, Mediapart details how the then head of the French public prosecution services’ financial crimes branch, Éliane Houlette, shelved investigations into evidence of corruption behind the deal, despite the contrary opinion of her colleagues. France’s current president, Emmanuel Macron, and his predecessor, François Hollande, are cited in the allegations levelled in the case. Houlette has since justified her decision as preserving “the interests of France, the workings of institutions”. Yann Philippin reports. 

Revealed: the neo-Nazis within the ranks of France’s armed forces

By Sébastien Bourdon, Justine Brabant and Matthieu Suc
Screenshots of photos posted by soldiers on social media showing Nazi salutes. © Mediapart Screenshots of photos posted by soldiers on social media showing Nazi salutes. © Mediapart

An investigation by Mediapart revealing the existence of neo-Nazi sympathisers among French military personnel has prompted the armed forces minister and France’s chief of defence staff to promise a crackdown on extremists within the ranks. The investigation, detailed here, identified 50 members of the French armed forces, many of who brazenly posted photos and videos on social media illustrating their admiration of Nazi ideology. Sébastien Bourdon, Justine Brabant and Matthieu Suc report.

How ‘Islamophobia’ row erupted at French political sciences school

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Students gather in a protest in front of the entrance to the Grenoble Sciences Po school on March 9th. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP Students gather in a protest in front of the entrance to the Grenoble Sciences Po school on March 9th. © PHILIPPE DESMAZES / AFP

A national controversy blew up in France earlier this month over a ‘naming and shaming’ campaign by students at a political sciences school who accused two of their teachers of Islamophobia, prompting police protection for the pair. While there has been widespread political and media condemnation of the students’ campaign, this investigation by Mediapart found that the case is far more complex than so far presented, and that the controversy was fanned by the timidity of the school's management to intervene in a simmering dispute within its walls. David Perrotin reports.

Divorce: French woman ‘at fault’ for ending sexual relations with husband

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Inside the European Court of Human Rights. © FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP Inside the European Court of Human Rights. © FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP

A 66-year-old woman has lost all her appeals in France against a divorce case ruling that she was at fault in the collapse of her marriage after refusing to continue to have sexual relations with her husband. This month she submitted an ultimate appeal before the European Court of Human Rights in what may prove a watershed case on the notion of “conjugal duty”. Marine Turchi reports.

What teeth say about social inequalities

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In a book published this month in France, journalist Olivier Cyran investigates the country’s dental care system and the social inequalities of access to treatment, which can cause lifelong suffering and stigma for those excluded. Faïza Zerouala reports.

'Dr Peyo', the remarkable horse bringing peace to French cancer patients

French nuclear tests in the Pacific: the hidden fallout that hit Tahiti

By Disclose
A French atmospheric nuclear bomb test above the Murorura atoll in 1971. © AFP A French atmospheric nuclear bomb test above the Murorura atoll in 1971. © AFP

Beginning in 1966, France carried out close to 200 nuclear tests at its South Pacific territory of French Polynesia, 15,000 kilometres from Paris. The most contaminating were the nuclear bombs exploded in the atmosphere. This report from a series of investigations by Mediapart's editorial partner Disclose presents the extent of the radioactive fallout from one of those bombs in the Polynesian island of Tahiti, a hidden nuclear disaster that is estimated to have exposed 110,000 inhabitants to alarming levels of radioactivity.

Why the Paris Commune still continues to spark debate, 150 years after the uprising

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A photomontage of the execution of Dominican priests from Arcueil at route d'Italie in Paris, May 25th 1871. © Eugène Appert A photomontage of the execution of Dominican priests from Arcueil at route d'Italie in Paris, May 25th 1871. © Eugène Appert

The Paris Commune, an uprising in which ordinary citizens seized control of the French capital, began on March 18th 1871 and lasted for two months before coming to a bloody end. Now, 150 years after those dramatic events, an exhaustive book on the Commune has been been published. As Joseph Confavreux reports the book, edited by historian Michel Cordillot, retraces the uprising in minute detail and explains why this traumatic event still provokes debate in France to this day.

How the Balladur verdict highlights fatal flaws of CJR - France's ministerial court

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Former PM Édouard  Balladur arriving at the CJR on January 19th 2021. © Alain JOCARD / AFP Former PM Édouard Balladur arriving at the CJR on January 19th 2021. © Alain JOCARD / AFP

On Thursday March 4th 2021 the Cour de Justice de la République (CJR) – which tries cases of alleged ministerial misconduct – cleared former French prime minister Édouard Balladur of any wrongdoing in the long-running Karachi affair. At the same time it found Balladur's former defence minister François Léotard guilty of complicity in the misuse of assets and handed him a two-year suspended prison sentence. The verdicts were much more lenient than those for ministerial aides in the earlier criminal trial involving the same affair. Karl Laske wonders how long the hybrid CJR court, most of whose 'judges' are politicians, can survive.

Judge rejects plea bargain deal for French billionaire Vincent Bolloré in corruption case

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Businessman Vincent Bolloré. © Eric Piermont / AFP Businessman Vincent Bolloré. © Eric Piermont / AFP

The businessman had negotiated a deal with the French financial prosecution unit, the Parquet National Financier, under the terms of which he would have only received a fine of 375,000 euros over a corruption case in West Africa. But on Friday February 26th a court in Paris rejected the plea bargain agreement, ruling that it was too favourable to Vincent Bolloré, whose group has a string of economic interests in African countries. Fabrice Arfi and Yann Philippin report

Sarkozy conviction reveals the forest of corruption in France

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Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP Nicolas Sarkozy arriving at the court in Paris on Monday 1st March 2021. © Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP

The significance of the conviction of former president Nicolas Sarkozy in the 'Paul Bismuth' phone tap affair goes wider than one case, says Mediapart's Fabrice Arfi. It highlights the extent to which France is a country is riddled with corruption.