Interviews

  • The 'double heritage' behind the crisis in Greece

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    Following the creation of an independent Greece in 1830, the country’s administration has been significantly shaped by European models, while its cultural, religious and historical heritage, along with its geographical situation, have given the country, the first European state to have emerged from the Ottoman Empire, an exceptional political and economic destiny. In this interview with Joseph Confavreux, Geneva-based historian Dimitri Skopelitis offers a historical insight into the nature of the current turmoil in Greece, tottering on the brink of bankruptcy, its future within the European Union still uncertain, and the complex relationship between the population and the State.

  • The myths and destruction of the tombs of Timbuktu

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    The name Timbuktu has taken on an almost mythical status in Western thought, one fuelled by the remoteness of the town in Mali. In destroying tombs recently in this “pearl of the desert” an Islamist group has both launched an attack on the holy sites of other Muslims and thrown down a challenge to the West, who recently put the famous town on the UNESCO list of endangered World Heritage sites. In an interview with Joseph Confavreux, French historian Charles Grémont gives the background to current events in Mali and the threat posed to Timbuktu.

  • How Sarkozy's UMP gave legitimacy to the far-right Front National

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    After the defeat of Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party in France's presidential and parliamentary elections, various prominent party figures have publicly questioned the former president's tactic of lurching to the right in a bid to poach votes from the far-right Front National (FN). Joël Gombin, a researcher at the University of Picardy who specialises in studying the FN's electorate, says this policy should be abandoned, not only because it so manifestly failed - but also because it legitimised the Front National. He spoke to Marine Turchi.

  • Life on the Smic - how people in France cope on the minimum wage

    The French minimum wage, the Salaire minimum interprofessionnel de croissance or Smic, went up by 2% on July 1st, causing a political row. Some say the rise is an extra burden on businesses. Critics on the Left say the increase is far too small. But what impact will it have in practice on the purchasing power of those on or slightly above this basic level of income? How do you live on little more than 1,000 euros a month? Mediapart interviewed people living in different parts of the country on or close to the minimum wage to find out. Valentine Oberti, Ellen Salvi and Rachida El Azzouzi report.

  • L'ex-premier ministre libyen voulait parler au juge Van Ruymbeke

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    Extradé en Libye dimanche par le gouvernement tunisien, l'ancien premier ministre Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi avait pris contact via son avocat, vendredi, avec le juge de l’affaire Takieddine. « Il allait être amené à parler des financements des campagnes électorales et des questions d’enrichissement personnel », explique son avocat, Me Ceccaldi, à Mediapart.

  • Poo! The Louvre hosts Belgian enfant terrible Wim Delvoye

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    After three years of horse-trading - or should that be pig-trading? - the Louvre is finally letting Belgian artist Wim Delvoye show some of his slightly less shocking works. His ‘poo machine’ and live tattooed pigs have been vetoed, but his 36-foot ‘Suppository’ is now sticking straight up into the apex of the Pyramid entrance to this pre-eminent Paris museum. There are also some stuffed, carpeted piglets, contorted crucifixes, and a selection of subversive Gothic-style sculptures on display in the Decorative Arts section this summer. Global meets local, high-brow meets low-brow, in the Wim Delvoye show now on at the Louvre until September. Hugo Vitrani reports.

  • Rust and Bone author Craig Davidson on life, fights, fatherhood and Audiard's 'beautiful' adaptation

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     © Roger Arpajou, Why Not Productions © Roger Arpajou, Why Not Productions

    French film director Jacques Audiard has met with widespread acclaim at this year’s Cannes Film Festival for his latest film, Rust and Bone ( De rouille et d'os), an adaptation of Canadian author Craig Davidson’s collection of short stories by the same name. As the film appears poised for a huge box-office success, Mediapart’s Christine Marcandier interviews Davidson about how the project with Audiard began (in a meeting when he spilled water over the celebrated director’s “lovely” felt hat), what he thinks of the film, and his approach to writing - which he admits has seen him go “a little crazy” in living out the pains of his characters.

  • West walks a diplomatic tightrope above burning Syria

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    Une photo du président Bachar el-Assad est brûlée par des manifestants à Istanbul (Turquie). © Reuters Une photo du président Bachar el-Assad est brûlée par des manifestants à Istanbul (Turquie). © Reuters

    Not a day passes without an increase in the death toll of the now 14-month old uprising in Syria against President Bashar al-Assad, despite a United Nations-backed ceasefire negotiated by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan more than a month ago. In this interview with Mediapart’s Caroline Donati, Robert Malley, a former special advisor on the Middle East to US President Bill Clinton, and now Programme Director for Middle East-North Africa affairs with the International Crisis Group, analyses the options for the international community, and the US in particular, in bringing an end to the bloody repression by the Assad regime, which the UN says has now claimed the lives of at least 9,000 people.

  • 'Removing the word race won't end racism'

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    In a bid to help stamp out racism, Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande wants to make a small but significant amendment to article 1 of the French Constitution – the removal of the word “race”. But would that make any difference? Academic and human rights campaigner Danièle Lochak thinks not, dismissing the idea as merely “for show”. Here, in an interview with Mediapart's Carine Fouteau, she explains her reasoning.

  • The French far-right surge sweeping Sarkozy into a political no-man's land

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     © Thomas Haley © Thomas Haley

    While Socialist Party presidential candidate François Hollande won the election first round on Sunday, it was far-right Front National party leader Marine Le Pen who came out of the contest the most jubilant. Her nationwide 17.9% slice of the vote was the highest the far-right has ever obtained in presidential elections, well beyond what opinion polls predicted, and has elevated her to the position of a broker of votes for the next round. For as Hollande and second-placed Nicolas Sarkozy now move on to the final play-off on May 6th, the outgoing president is now launched on a desperate and dismal chase for support from the far-right electorate. But is Marine Le Pen on the threshold of transforming the Front National into a significant and popular force on the Right, or will she more likely belly-flop from the crest of a temporary wave of protest from a politically disenfranchised section of French society? For an answer, and an explanation of her success, Michaël Hajdenberg turned to Sylvain Crépon, a sociology professor and a recognised expert researcher on the Far Right, and the Front National in particular.