The skulls of Algerian resistance fighters decapitated during France's conquest in the 19th century have been returned to the country. © Sofiane Bakouri / Hans Lucas via AFP
In January 2021 the French historian Benjamin Stora delivered a report commissioned by President Emmanuel Macron that is aimed at “reconciling memories” between France and its former colony Algeria. The French head of state said he would follow a recommendation in the report and establish a “memories and truth” commission to address the history of France’s colonial past in Algeria, but he stopped short of issuing an official apology. The report itself has attracted criticism in both France and Algeria. Mediapart has asked two Algerian historians, Afaf Zekkour and Noureddine Amara, for their views of the document and of Franco-Algeiran relations in general. The pair criticise Stora for what they call “soft revisionism” and for prioritising France's needs for a united view over the recounting of history. Rachida El Azzouzi reports.
New Caledonia pro-independence leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé. © Le Pays
The inhabitants of the semi-autonomous South Pacific French territory of New Caledonia are to vote on Sunday in a referendum on whether they want full independence from France, which colonised the archipelago in the mid-19th century. In a similar referendum in 2018, nearly 57% of votes cast were against cutting ties with Paris. Can the pro-independence movement swing the result in their favour this time around? Joseph Confavreux interviews New Caledonia's prominent pro-independence political leader Jean-Pierre Djaïwé.
A burned-out, deforested area of the Amazon rainforest near Novo Progresso, Para state, Brazil, August 25th 2019. © Joao Laet/AFP
The French government has announced it will not sign “as it stands” a proposed free trade deal between the European Union (EU) and the Mercosur economic bloc of South American countries Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, citing environmental concerns and notably the deforestation of swathes of the Amazon region for cattle farms. But while EU member countries appear increasingly divided over the terms of the trade agreement, French economist Mathilde Dupré, co-founder of the Paris-based Veblen Institute think tank on economic issues surrounding ecological transition, tells Mediapart why what she calls a “climaticidal” deal may yet go ahead.
Jacques de Maillard. (© Sciences-Po Saint-Germain-en-Laye)
Through his appointment of the tough-talking Gérald Darmanin as interior minister, President Emmanuel Macron has shown himself to be a conservative on law and order issues, following in the footsteps of former president Nicolas Sarkozy. The French Left, meanwhile, which is wary of once again being portrayed as “soft” on crime, is showing signs of wanting to set its own agenda on the issue ahead of the 2022 presidential election. Against this backdrop Mediapart's Antoine Perraud spoke to political scientist Jacques de Maillard, an expert on the police and on law and order issues, about the fight against crime and the effectiveness of statistics. The academic warns against the “perverse effects” of focusing too narrowly on crime figures and of the dangers of proclaiming “simple solutions” to what are complex issues.
Rui Pinto is living under police protection ahead of his trial which opens on September 4th. © Sonja Och / Der Spiegel
Rui Pinto, the whistleblower behind the Football Leaks revelations of corruption and fraud that have rocked the world of professional football, is to stand trial in Portugal on September 4th. The 31-year-old faces 90 charges which carry up to 25 years in prison. But after reaching a cooperation agreement with Portuguese authorities, he is now in a witness protection scheme. Der Spiegel magazine, Mediapart’s partner in the European Investigative Collaborations network which jointly published the Football Leaks investigations, has met with Pinto ahead of his trial.
Small dinghies used by migrants to cross the Channel, lined up in the port of Dover. © AFP
The numbers of migrants attempting hazardous clandestine crossings of the Channel to reach Britain, mostly in overcrowded small dinghies, has soared this year, already reaching well more than double the total of 2019. Now the British government has called on the Royal Navy to assist the country’s Border Force in a move officials say is intended to make the crossings “unviable”. In this interview with Mediapart, François Gemenne, a prominent Belgian political scientist specialised in migratory issues, says that the situation in the Channel is comparable to that in the Mediterranean and warns that “the idea of closing migratory routes is absurd and dangerous” and “will lead to yet more tragedies”.
Souleymane Bachir Diagne, a philosopher from Senegal who is currently living and working in the United States, has spoken out about the current global health crisis and the inequalities and prejudice that it has revealed and the outdated thinking it has exposed about Africa. In an interview with Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi the academic discusses why so many observers still only discuss the continent through the prism of disease and disaster. Souleymane Bachir Diagne explains that despite many of them having a colonial past, developed countries of the North do not really know modern Africa and the progress it has made in recent decades. He calls on African countries and people to proclaim their achievements to the rest of the world, and talks of the need to 'decolonise' our minds.
Infectious disease expert Didier Sicard on lessons of the virus crisis and the need to re-think healthcare policy
A leading specialist in infectious diseases, French doctor Didier Sicard was for many years head of internal medicine at the Cochin public hospital in Paris, helped establish the Pasteur Institute’s branch in Laos, south-east Asia, and served for eight years as head of France’s national bioethics advisory committee. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, he offers his insight into the current Covid-19 virus pandemic – a phenomenon he warned against long ago – including the perpetuating root causes of the crisis, the action needed to avoid a recurrence, why medicine can only be effective if it encompasses a wide view of society, and how public health policy has lost sight of its fundamental missions.
'The independent Left has its work cut out': Walden Bello. © DR
In the aftermath, when it comes, of the Covid-19 virus pandemic the world will undoubtedly emerge with profound changes to old orders. In one of a series of reflections upon the transformations that lie ahead, Ludovic Lamant interviewed Filipino academic Walden Bello, a leading theoretician of the anti-globalization movement, who warns against the danger of the far-right “espousing deglobalization and economic nationalism of a frightening kind”.
Angela Merkel - treating the German people as grown-ups.
In an interview with Mediapart, history lecturer Johann Chapoutot, an expert on contemporary Germany and the history of the Nazis, uses the example of Germany to highlight France's failings in its handling of the coronavirus pandemic. He says that while the German chancellor Angela Merkel appeals to people's reason, in France “they lie to us”. Interview by Ludovic Lamant.