Maurice Audin, tortured and murdered by the French military. © DR
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday issued a landmark statement officially recognising for the first time the systematic use of torture by French forces during the 1954-1962 Algerian war of independence. The admission was made alongside a letter presented to the widow of Maurice Audin, a 25-year-old mathematician and militant for Algerian independence who disappeared after his arrest by the French military in 1957, and who Macron acknowledged had died after he was tortured in detention. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel sets out here why the move is as historically significant as the recognition in 1995 by then president Jacques Chirac of the responsibility of France in the deportation of Jews to German death camps during WWII, and why it may herald a reconciliation of sorts after six decades of denial.
After the resignation of his high-profile and popular environment minister – which exposed the gulf between the presidency and wider society – President Emmanuel Macron made a declaration and a decision which then widened that gap still further. The decision was the nomination of a close friend, the writer Philippe Besson, as France's consul general in Los Angeles. The declaration was his criticism of his own people as “Gauls who are resistant to change”. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel looks at what these recent episodes say about the state of France's outmoded presidential system.
Nicolas Hulot addressing French parliament in September 2017. © Stéphane Mahé/Reuters
French environment minister Nicolas Hulot dramatically resigned from government on Tuesday, announcing his surprise decision during a live radio interview. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel argues here that it represents a salutary electroshock that highlights the impasse of economic policies leading to an ecological catastrophe, and also puts an end to the illusion that the will of a supposedly providential man alone can bring about a sudden turnaround in approach to environmental issues. Hulot’s resignation, he says, resonates as a call for society to mobilise itself in favour of a veritable political alternative.
Alexandre Benalla and President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters
Without Emmanuel Macron there would have been no Alexandre Benalla at the Élysée; for the man who dressed with police insignia and assaulted demonstrators owes everything to the president. But, equally, there would be no Benalla scandal without the support given by the president of the Republic to his trusted aide. Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel says that it is this protection, even lying, that makes this scandal an affair of state.
Emmanuel Macron (left) with his now disgraced security aide, Alexandre Benalla, during election campaigning in May 2017. © Régis Duvignau/Reuters
The scandal surrounding French president Emmanuel Macron’s security advisor Alexandre Benalla, who beat up May Day demonstrators while passing himself off as a police officer, evokes a nauseating picture of a parallel police and a private security office within the heart of the French presidential office, writes Mediapart publishing editor Edwy Plenel in this opinion article on the fast-developing crisis engulfing Macron and his government. This privatisation of the president’s security, with the ugly atmosphere of hatchet men with a law to themselves, reveals the dark side of Macron’s monarchic style of leadership.
A man celebrates France's victory in the World Cup on Sunday in the Goutte d'Or neighbourhood of Paris. © Rachida El Azzouzi
After winning the football World Cup tournament in Russia, France’s national football team arrived home on Monday, when rejoicing crowds turned out to applaud them riding a double-decker bus along the Champs-Elysées avenue in central Paris, before a reception at the presidential palace. Since France’s victory over Croatia in the final on Sunday, streets across the country have been swamped in a flag-waving, car-horn blazing party of multi-coloured jubilation. But, warns Mediapart political commentator Hubert Huertas, while this temporary moment of collective joy is one to embrace, it heralds no change for the country’s underlining social, political and economic problems.
Some of the migrants rescued by the Aquarius were transferred to Italian coastguard ships in a convoy heading for Spain. © Karpov / SOS Méditerranée
The odyssey of the migrant rescue ship Aquarius offers a new example of the violence of Europe-wide immigration policies, and not only those of the far-right in power in Italy, writes Mediapart co-editor Carine Fouteau. For the migrants onboard the Aquarius, who will eventually arrive in a state of exhaustion in Spain, the ship’s long and deviated route for a safe haven is yet further confirmation that they and others like them are simply considered as a burden by European countries – if, that is, they manage to arrive alive on the continent’s shores.
The red carpet at the Palais des festivals in Cannes.
The 71st Cannes Film Festival officially opened on Tuesday evening, and over the next two weeks the Riviera town will be bustling with cinema stars, directors, producers and hopeful actors, hundreds of journalists, TV crews and crowds of sightseers. But not Mediapart, whose cinema critic Emmanuel Burdeau sets out here why he sees no sense in covering an event that has lost touch with the evolutions of the so-called "seventh art”.
Spanish refugees arriving across the French border in the village of Le Perthus, February 1939. © David Seymour. Musée national de l'histoire et des cultures de l'immigration
A move to include the 150th anniversary of the birth of the notorious French anti-Semitic and far-right author Charles Maurras in official ceremonies across France this year caused such an outcry that it was struck off the agenda, calling into question the criteria employed by the country’s learned national commemorations committee. Amid the farce over Maurras, historian and Mediapart contributor Nicolas Lebourg argues here that a truly worthy commemoration sorely missing from the official calendar is that of the plight, and unsung contribution to France, of the hundreds of thousands of Spanish Civil War refugees who, in the runup to World War II, crossed into the country seeking refuge from the Franco regime.
French President Emmanuel Macron. © Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron has enjoyed a headline-grabbing week of appearances, from hosting international CEOs in the sumptuous surrounds of the Palace of Versailles, to being feted by the world elite at the Davos Economic Forum in Switzerland, before touching down in rural France to woo the country’s agricultural sector. The packed agenda was the latest example of the young president’s skill in occupying the media agenda and promoting double-pronged policies that have anesthetised public opinion, argues Mediapart editor François Bonnet, along with political and economic correspondents Romaric Godin, Manuel Jardinaud and Ellen Salvi, in this joint analysis of Macron's impressive mastership of the art of spin.