Interviews

  • European elections special: where the candidates to head the EU Commission stand on the controversial transatlantic trade treaty

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    The free trade treaty currently being hammered out between the European Union and the United States is a major issue in this week’s elections of members of the European Parliament, which in France will be held on Sunday. For this year also sees the departure of EU Commission president José Manuel Barroso, and for the first time the new head of this key EU body will be appointed from the political grouping that does best in this week’s continent-wide elections. Here, Mediapart's Brussels correspondent Ludovic Lamant questions all of the parties’ declared candidates for the post of Commission president - Martin Schulz, Guy Verhofstadt, Alexis Tsipras, José Bové and Jean-Claude Juncker – and hears their conflicting views on the transatlantic free trade deal.

  • Behind the mask of France's jihadists

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    A raft of new measures aimed at preventing the growing number of French nationals joining jihadist movements in Syria was approved at a meeting of the French cabinet on Wednesday. Official estimates are that 700 French citizens and residents have joined jihadist groups engaged in the three-year old civil war against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, some of them teenagers. The issue was highlighted during the release last weekend of four French journalists who had been kidnapped in Syria by an al-Qaeda-linked group, when they said they had identified francophones among their captors. To understand more about just who the French jihadists are, and what motivates them, Mediapart Arab affairs correspondent Pierre Puchot turned to Radio France International journalist David Thomson, who carried out in-depth interviews with 18 of them for his recently-published book Les Français jihadistes.

  • 'France has withdrawn into itself'

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    Todd Shepard Todd Shepard

    France's local elections in March were a débâcle for President François Hollande's socialist government, resulting in a reshuffle and the appointment of a new prime minister, Manuel Valls. But the current disaffection with politics runs even deeper. Both the Left and the Right are divided, high unemployment persists, the economy is flat and the far-right Front National has made electoral gains. How does all this appear from the outside? Mediapart's Joseph Confavreux interviewed American academic Todd Shepard, an expert on modern French history, who believes that France's colonial past is still shaping its present, and not for the better.

     

  • French police accused of joining in Spain's dirty war against Basque separatists

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     © DR © DR

    During the 1980s, the Spanish government launched a dirty war against members of the Basque paramilitary separatist group ETA by creating an assassination organization that hid behind the name of GAL (for Anti-terrorist Liberation Groups). Between 1983 and 1987, the GAL killed 27 people and wounded 30 others, including innocent bystanders, in a campaign of assassinations and car bombings that spread terror across the Basque regions of northern Spain and south-west France. While it was later established how the GAL were led and funded by the Spanish government and police services, it is now alleged that numerous French police officers were recruited into the GAL hit squads to carry out murders on their own patch. Former Spanish deputy police commissioner and convicted GAL operative José Amedo Fouce has published a book in which he recounts terrorist actions committed by French police officers, and how their covert roles were covered up on high. He provides further detail in this interview with Karl Laske, including the key role of a French officer in a number of killings and whose true identity remains a secret today.

  • Making themselves heard: why sacked workers David and Stéphanie will vote for the far-right Front national

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    David et Stéphanie Stephan © Rachida El Azzouzi David et Stéphanie Stephan © Rachida El Azzouzi

    When abattoir employees David and Stéphanie watched TV reports of workers in bitter disputes with bosses over factory closures, they insisted it could never happen to them. Their abattoir in Brittany was reputed to provide 'jobs for life'. But then last October the news struck that the plant was to close, leaving David, Stéphanie and more than 800 other workers out of a job. Here the couple tell Mediapart's Rachida El Azzouzi about their shock at being thrown out of work, their anger at the government in Paris and explain why for the first time they intend to vote for Marine Le Pen's far-right party.

  • Gaddafi-Sarkozy corruption affair: ex-spy chief 'ready to help French investigation'

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    Abdallah Senoussi, le 21 août 2011 à Tripoli.  © Reuters Abdallah Senoussi, le 21 août 2011 à Tripoli. © Reuters

    Colonel Gaddafi's former intelligence chief is said to be ready to cooperate fully with French judges who are probing claims that the Libyan regime illegally funded Nicolas Sarkozy's successful presidential election campaign in 2007. Abdullah Senussi's daughter told Mediapart: 'My father can help the judges find the proof.' Anoud Senussi has been in Paris to ask officials at the Elysée Palace to intercede on behalf of her father, who faces the death sentence in Libya where he is currently held on war crime charges. Fabrice Arfi reports.

     

  • The grim reality behind the 1983 'march for equality and against racism'

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    December 3rd marks the 30th anniversary of the arrival in Paris of the March for Equality and Against Racism, a milestone in the history of anti-racist movements in France. It was the triumphant end of a 1,500-kilometre trek across the country's towns and cities, beginning in  Marseille, and which vented the anger of France’s population of North African origin at the prejudice and violence they were regularly the target of. Moroccan immigrant Abdallah Moubine (pictured) was 29 years old at the time, and remembers the marchers’ arrival in the French capital as a “magnificent” event. Moubine, a trade unionist who battled for equal rights for North African immigrants in the French car industry, tells Carine Fouteau about the explosive racist climate of the early 1980s, and reflects on what’s changed since that historic day in December 1983.  

     

  • Key witness who was never heard points to the proof that Société Générale trader Jérôme Kerviel did not act alone

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    Société Générale employee Jérôme Kerviel met with worldwide notoriety as the so-called 'rogue trader' who lost the bank almost 5 billion euros in reckless trading bets in 2007. He was sentenced to five years in prison – two of them suspended - and a staggering fine of 4.9 billion euros, a sentence upheld after he lost an appeal in October 2012. The bank has consistently claimed that Kerviel acted alone and kept his high-risk bets secret from his superiors. But in this interview with Mediapart, a key witness to Kerviel's appeal case, but who was never called to testify, explains why Kerviel's activities were necessarily known to the bank, which at best turned a blind eye. What's more, he tells Martine Orange, the concrete proof of this is still available in logged and stored data - but not for long.

  • 'Show us respect and equality': filmmaker, feminist Samia Chala on why France must look in the mirror and lift the veil ban

    Since its introduction in April 2011, a French law banning the ‘concealment of the face’ in public has been received by a section of France’s practicing Muslims, estimated to total about two million people, as an act of discrimination and provocation, for it above all targets the wearing of the Muslim veil. Documentary-maker Samia Chala (pictured) settled in France in the 1990s after fleeing the Islamist-led civil war in her native Algeria in the 1990s. In this interview with Rachida El Azzouzi and Antoine Perraud, this self-proclaimed feminist and “mauler of Islamists” explains her outrage at a law that prohibits a basic freedom and which, she argues, does nothing but to further stigmatize an already largely alienated population of North African origin. “I am doing nothing other than sounding an alarm," says Chala. “If we don’t stop this escalation, there will be a clash. And what a clash!”

  • 'I feel humiliated at having been deported from France – I did nothing wrong'

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    School students in France have resumed their protests over the deportation of Roma schoolgirl Léonarda who was arrested during a school trip. However, this controversial case was not an isolated incident. Under socialist president François Hollande the deportation of school students who have reached the age of majority and lack residence permits has occurred with greater frequency than under his right-wing predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy. Mediapart’s Michaël Hajdenberg gives the background to the deportations and then hears the moving story of a school pupil in France who was arrested this summer on his way to an exam and sent back to Mali five days later.