Interviews

  • The divide between France and its police

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    Last month French interior minister Claude Guéant announced a drive to put thousands more police on the streets to create "a climate of security" and called on senior officers to encourage closer relations with local populations. But the relationship between the police and public in France has long been a troubled one, rooted in history and pervaded by a strong mistrust on both sides. In an interview with Mediapart, Christian Mouhanna, a researcher and academic specialised in police and judicial issues, identifies the causes and explains why so many attempts to bridge the divide have failed, creating an increasing malaise within the police itself.

  • Iceland closer to becoming offshore hacks' haven

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    Smari McCarthy © Thordis Reynisdottir Smari McCarthy © Thordis Reynisdottir

    In June 2010, the Icelandic government started on a vast legal and technical project aimed at turning the island into an aggressively protective haven for investigative journalism and internet freedom. Baptised the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, it hopes to launch in 2012 and could eventually host most of the world's online press. Here, Ludovic Lamant talks to the project's co-founder and spokesman Smári McCarthy (photo) on its reasons for being and its development so far.

  • The sleazy, easy anti-Semitism that blights French politics

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    When a political ally of Nicolas Sarkozy recently labelled Dominique Strauss-Kahn, head of the International Monetary Fund and a potential Socialist Party rival candidate in next year's presidential elections, as lacking true French peasant roots, he was echoing a longstanding French tradition of anti-Semitic mud-slinging in politics. In this detailed interview with Mediapart's Antoine Perraud, the eminent historian and sociologist Pierre Birnbaum, author of several books on anti-Semitism and French politics, details the myths behind French intolerance of Jewish political leaders.

  • The joys and sorrows of the extraordinary Stéphane Hessel

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     © Voix de l'Enfant/Indigène éditions © Voix de l'Enfant/Indigène éditions

    The outspoken French social and political campaigner Stéphane Hessel (pictured), whose recent best-selling manifesto Time for Outrage became an inspiration for social protest movements worldwide, died during the night of February 26th, aged 95. Born German, Hessel was seven years’ old when he arrived in France, becoming a naturalised citizen after which, at the outbreak of World War II, he joined the Resistance movement. He was eventually arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp from where he escaped during transfer to Bergen-Belsen. After the war, he helped draft the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and was appointed as an honorary ‘Ambassador of France' for special government missions abroad. Hessel detailed his extraordinary life, his political engagement and his cultural influences in this revealing interview with Sylvain Bourmeau, first published by Mediapart in 2011. He began by explaining how his escape from execution in Germany in 1944 left him with a purpose he had to fulfil.

  • 'We just lost the chance to rethink capitalism' laments Stiglitz

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    "The moment of rethinking capitalism in America has gone", bemoans Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the Nobel prize in economics, former World Bank chief economist and now professor of economics at Columbia University, in this exclusive interview with Mediapart. Stiglitz says the height of the current economic crisis was a lost opportunity to re-order the economy, "one of those rare moments, many of us thought a Roosevelt-ian moment" but "as soon as the fire was brought down, the political influences of the banks came back."

  • The 'devastating' stigmatisation of the Roma in France

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    Roma family in Strasbourg. © L.F. Roma family in Strasbourg. © L.F.
    In the summer of 2010, the French government launched a crackdown on Gypsy immigrants in France,with the demolition of hundreds of Roma camps and mass expulsions, mainly to Romania. In an interview with Mediapart, French sociologist Jean-Pierre Liégeois, one of Europe's leading experts on the Gypsy community, traces the history of the Roma and slams the campaign of stigmatisation against them as "economically costly and humanly devastating".
  • The forgotten story of the Atlantic Wall

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    A book by the writer and documentary director Jérôme Prieur reveals how the Atlantic Wall, a line of fortifications along France's western and northern coastline, erected to resist an allied troop landing, was a cornerstone of the collaboration effort between the Vichy government and Nazi Germany.

  • 'Euro bail outs heading into a wall' warns top French economist

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    Demonstrators in Ireland protest austerity plan. © DR. Demonstrators in Ireland protest austerity plan. © DR.

    Ireland has introduced its toughest austerity plan in history in return for a debt bail out by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. In an exclusive interview with Mediapart, French economist André Orléan warns such policies are "heading into a wall" and that Europe's "strategic inertia" leaves it "divided and powerless" in face of market pressures. It needs a New Deal, he argues, not austerity.

  • Pierre Rosanvallon on this thing called Sarkozy-ism

     © Mediapart © Mediapart

    The arrival of Nicolas Sarkozy to the office of president has unquestionably ushered in a new era of French politics. But just what is Sarkozy-ism, his policies and regime? How is it changing French society and where is the opposition? Pierre Rosanvallon (pictured), a leading French political historian and thinker, offers his analysis in an interview with Mediapart.

  • Karachi blast probe rapporteur demands truth from Constitutional Council

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    B. Cazeneuve © DR B. Cazeneuve © DR

    Bernard Cazeneuve, rapporteur for the French parliament's mission of enquiry into the deaths in a bomb blast in Karachi in 2002 of 11 French naval engineers, tells Mediapart of his outrage at the 'obstruction'of the judicial investigation into the murders, and says the Constitutional Council "owes it to the victims" to reveal the truth about Edouard Balladur's presidential election campaign funds.