Because ‘our time has come'

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Participants in the first ‘International congress of black writers and artists’, held in Paris in 1956. © © Présence Africaine Participants in the first ‘International congress of black writers and artists’, held in Paris in 1956. © © Présence Africaine

A fiery debate has erupted in France over the holding of meetings on issues of discrimination to which are admitted only those who are affected by such prejudice. In this opinion article, Mediapart’s publishing editor Edwy Plenel says the furore over such gatherings is but the latest offensive against the self-organisation of those who are dominated in society, whether that be because of their appearance, religion, gender or social condition.

'Rafale Papers’: the explosive documents in France-India jets deal

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Then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (l) celebrates with Dassault CEO Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier (c) the signing of the Rafale deal in September 2016. © Dassault Aviation Then French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (l) celebrates with Dassault CEO Dassault Aviation CEO Éric Trappier (c) the signing of the Rafale deal in September 2016. © Dassault Aviation

In this final report in a three-part investigation into the controversial sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft, Mediapart reveals, with hitherto unpublished documents, how an influential Indian business intermediary was secretly paid millions of euros by Rafale manufacturer Dassault Aviation and French defence electronics firm Thales. They succeeded in removing anti-corruption clauses from the fighter contract which was subsequently signed by then French defence minister, now foreign minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian. Yann Philippin reports.

‘Rafale Papers’: a video summary of a complex story

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Beginning on April 4th, Mediapart has published a series of investigations into the circumstances of the 7.8-billion-euro sale by France to India of 36 Rafale fighter jets, which is clouded by suspicions of corruption on a large scale. In this short video with English subtitles, Yann Philippin explains the key results of Mediapart’s investigations into this most complex story.

Sale of French Rafale jet fighters to India: how a state scandal was buried

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French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi on January 25th 2016 during a joint press conference with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and French president François Hollande. © Prakash Singh / AFP French defence minister Jean-Yves Le Drian shakes hands with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi on January 25th 2016 during a joint press conference with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and French president François Hollande. © Prakash Singh / AFP

In 2016 France and India signed a 7.8-billion-euro deal for the purchase of 36 Rafale jet fighters made by French defence group Dassault. Mediapart can reveal that, alongside this controversial deal, Dassault also agreed to pay one million euros to a middleman who is now under investigation in India in connection with another defence deal. The French anti-corruption agency Agence Française Anticorruption (AFA) discovered this separate arrangement during a routine audit of Dassault. The AFA nonetheless decided not to alert the prosecution authorities over the payment. This is the first part of Mediapart's investigation into a state scandal which also raises questions over the both the justice system and the political authorities. Yann Philippin reports.

Anger of the French MPs who turned their back on Macron

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Some of the 30 MPs who have quit Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party. © DR Some of the 30 MPs who have quit Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party. © DR

Since the Parliamentary elections held in 2017 around 30 Members of Parliament have deserted the ranks of Emmanuel Macron's ruling La République en Marche party. Some have joined other movements, a few have set up their own groups while others simply sit as independents. A year before the next presidential and Parliamentary elections, Mediapart's Ellen Salvi talked to some of these MPs about why they supported Emmanuel Macron in 2017 but are not prepared to do so in 2022.

The inside story of the 'ultra Left' activists arrested in France over alleged terrorism

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The Judicial Court in Paris which is used to try terrorist cases; February 2021. © Jérôme Leblois / Hans Lucas via AFP The Judicial Court in Paris which is used to try terrorist cases; February 2021. © Jérôme Leblois / Hans Lucas via AFP

For the first time in a dozen years France's antiterrorist authorities are investigating an alleged terrorist plot by an 'ultra Left' group. In December nine people were arrested at various locations around France. Seven of them were subsequently placed under formal investigation on suspicion of plotting “violent action” against the forces of law and order. Five of them have been held in custody since then. Mediapart's Camille Polloni has spoken to the families and friends of some of those arrested about what they have gone through. Inevitably this new case brings with it reminders of the long-running 'Tarnac affair' in which after a decade of investigations and legal proceedings a group of left-wing activists accused of terrorist acts against French railway lines eventually saw all those charges dismissed.

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.

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.

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. 

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.