Mauricette M., aged 78, becomes the first French person to get a vaccine on December 27th 2020 at the René-Muret hospital at Sevran near Paris. © Thomas Samson / AFP
In his New Year's Eve address to the nation President Emmanuel Macron made clear his intention to speed up France's Covid vaccination programme, apparently stung by the country's slow performance compared with many others. Privately he is said to be angry at its “unwarranted slowness” and as a result the country is expected to step up its campaign this week. So far the number of vaccinations in France measures in the low hundreds compared with tens or hundreds of thousands - or even millions - in some other countries. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports on the public mistrust that lies behind France's sluggish start in vaccinating its population.
Quick to react to the story, interior minister Gérald Darmanin; seen here at the Élysée in June 2019. © Ludovic Marin / AFP
A news story stating that a Muslim youth was beaten up on Boxing Day for having celebrated Christmas made the headlines in France. The only problem is that, on closer inspection, there is little evidence that the main claim in the story is true. This did not stop it being reported by many media, or prevent police trade unions and the interior minister Gérald Darmanin from expressing their condemnation of the alleged motives of the attack. David Perrotin and Ilyes Ramdani report on the making of a 'fake news' story.
Valéry Giscard d'Estaing at Le Bourget,near Paris, October 14th 2014. © Stéphane de Sakutin/AFP
The death was announced late on Wednesday December 2nd 2020 of Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, aged 94, who was president of France from 1974 to 1981. Here Mediapart's François Bonnet compares Giscard's term of office with the current presidency of Emmanuel Macron. He argues that in a provisional assessment of their achievements the record of the present incumbent of the Élysée does not compare well with his predecessor, especially on social issues. However, there are many similarities between the two men and their presidencies, including the way they came to power and, most ominously, their subsequent slide towards more repressive policies.
An image of Michel Zecler following the assault by three French police officers in Paris on November 21st. © Loopsider
There has been widespread outrage in France after video footage emerged of three police officers apparently gratuitously beating a black music producer in Paris, who was left with serious injuries from punches, kicks, baton blows and the explosion of a tear gas grenade in his studio last weekend. François Bonnet argues here that the events highlight how interior minister Gérald Darmanin has made a policy of flattering the most extremist fringes of the police, creating disorder amid heightened police violence. It is high time, he writes, for Darmanin to go.
© Capture d'écran
Released online earlier this month, Hold-Up is a French pseudo-documentary which promotes the conspiracy theory that Covid-19 was created in a plot by a group of powerful individuals to reshape the world in their interests. Despite the absurdity of the idea, and its inability to produce evidence to support its case, the film attracted an audience of more than three million in the first week of its appearance. Lucie Delaporte reports on an exercise in manipulation of the gullible.
The cover of a 2016 issue of the al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) magazine Inspire, dedicated to “home assassinations”. © DR
The attack on a church in the French Riviera city of Nice on Thursday, which left three people dead from knife wounds, was the third in the space of a month in a long series of terrorist attacks in France perpetrated by lone knifemen who have often escaped the attention of intelligence services. In the jargon of those services, they are called attacks of “low intensity”, meaning of little means and organisation, but which have a major impact on public opinion. Matthieu Suc reports.
A protest by the Extinction Rebellion movement during the parliamentary debates over the partial lifting of the ban on the use of neonicotinoids, October 5th 2020. © NurPhoto/AFP
The French parliament earlier this week approved a three-year exemption for sugar beet growers from a ban on the use of a class of pesticides known as neonicotinoids. The sugar beet sector has argued that its future was at stake because it was otherwise unarmed to counter the loss of crops caused by an aphid-borne virus disease. But the move outraged environmentalists who point to the inevitable effects of soil and water contamination by neonicotinoids, which are notably harmful for bees, and the dangers for human health. Amélie Poinssot highlights the ill-informed arguments presented in parliament in favour of a return of the controversial pesticides.
French foreign minister Jean-Yves Le Drian speaking in parliament, September 22nd. © THOMAS COEX / AFP
An opportune letter sent by French foreign affairs minister Jean-Yves Le Drian to LVMH luxury goods group boss Bernard Arnault gave the latter a justification for pulling out of a costly acquisition of US jewellers Tiffany that was agreed before the economic meltdown from the Covid-19 pandemic. According to LVMH, Le Drian, citing a looming tariffs dispute with the US, asked for the 16.6 billion-dollar deal to be halted. Curiously, the letter has never been made public. As Martine Orange reports, it is now at the heart of a legal battle between Tiffany and LVMH to be played out at a trial in the US in January, and threatens to become a major embarrassment for the French government.
The queue for a free Covid-19 test at a centre in Vénissieux, south-east France, on September 11th, 2020. © Jeff Pachoud / AFP
The spread of the Covid-19 virus is accelerating in France and already the country's testing system is struggling to cope. Many people are having to wait for tests, long queues have formed at testing stations and laboratories, and delays in results themselves – which can be up to five days – are “unacceptable”, the authorities admit. After pushing the policy of mass testing in the summer the government is now trying to rein back and give precedence to priority cases. Experts say that, once again, the national authorities have failed to anticipate events and demand. One glimmer of hope may be the arrival of new, much faster tests. Caroline Coq-Chodorge reports.
There is no way of knowing yet what kind and level of social protests may emerge in France this autumn. But judging by the new books from authors Alice Zeniter, Barbara Stiegler, Émilie Notéris, Sandra Lucbert and Aude Lancelin that have been published at the end of the summer break, one of the themes of the new literary season looks set to be that of political commitment and struggle – and the way in which people get involved. Lise Wajeman looks at a mixture of new fiction and non-fictional accounts of recent social conflicts and workplace disputes in France, and finds that 'hybrid' forms of writing win out over the traditional novel form.