Opinions

  • Charlie Hebdo massacre: the dilemma for French Muslims

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    As the first cracks appear in the “national unity” urged by President François Hollande, the spotlight has been turned on the reaction of French Muslims. Ahead of Sunday's 'Republican march' to show solidarity over the Charlie Hebdo killings, the far right and sections of the Right have called on France's Muslims to condemn the massacre publicly. On the Left, opinions are divided on the issue. Mediapart's Hubert Huertas argues that we are faced with two very different visions of France – one that demands assimilation, the other that embraces diversity.

  • Charlie Hebdo killings: an assault on our freedoms

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    The massacre that took place at the offices of Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday morning is an act without precedent, writes Mediapart editor François Bonnet. The killers who targeted the satirical magazine also attacked the very heart of what makes a democracy, freedom of the press and, beyond that, our individual and collective freedoms.

  • Terrorism and the fear that rallies people around leaders

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    Three separate and shocking incidents in France over recent days raised fears that a terrorist campaign had been launched over the Christmas period. They began with an attack last Saturday by a knife-wielding man, shouting ‘god is  great’ in Arabic, on a police station in central France, when three officers were wounded and the assailant shot dead. On Sunday, a car was driven into pedestrians in the south-east city of Dijon by a man also reportedly chanting in Arabic, in which 13 people were injured. Then on Monday, a man drove a van into a crowded Christmas market in the western city of Nantes, injuring ten people, one of whom later died. The strange message from the government, writes political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas in this opinion article, is that the situation is not alarming, but is alarming. For while finally dismissing a combined terrorist plot, it has also slammed the ‘go’ button on the machine that produces fear.

  • How Nobel prize-winner Jean Tirole led the private sector takeover of French economic studies

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     © DR © DR

    Earlier this week the Nobel prize for economics went to French economist Jean Tirole, who the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences described as “one of the most influential economists of our time”. Tirole was awarded the prize for his work on market power and regulation of large firms’ monopolistic practices, and the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy announced that “this year’s prize in economic sciences is about taming powerful firms”. But amid the wide acclaim for Tirole in France and abroad, Mediapart economics and business writer Laurent Mauduit advises caution. Here he argues why Tirole, the founder of the prestigious Toulouse School of Economics, is one of the principal champions of the rampant private sector takeover of economics teaching and research in France, to the detriment of the science and the public higher education system.

  • France's neoliberal monarchy

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    François Hollande et Valérie Trierweiler. © Reuters François Hollande et Valérie Trierweiler. © Reuters

    The publication of former 'First Lady' Valérie Trierweiler's book about her relationship with President François Hollande and their bitter break-up has provoked a media storm in France. Ordinarily, says Mediapart's editor François Bonnet, one would not be interested in the “bourgeois vaudeville” on show in 'Merci pour ce moment'. Except for the fact that its description of the president’s failings – his insincerity, political calculations and even lies – chime exactly with the recent statements of a string of politicians and former ministers who have worked closely with Hollande in government. In this respect, argues François Bonnet, the book provides the missing link in the story of François Hollande's “descent into hell”, leads to some important political questions and helps highlight how France has now become, in effect, a neoliberal monarchy.

  • Why Hollande's ruling majority has dissolved into an imposing minority

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    French Prime Minister Manuel Valls on Monday handed President François Hollande the resignation of his entire government following fierce public criticism of its austerity policies made this weekend by economy minister Arnaud Montebourg and education minister Benoît Hamon. The exit from government of Montebourg and Hamon was joined by culture minister Aurélie Filippetti, who announced on Monday her own opposition to continuing austerity measures. Hollande has asked Valls to appoint a new government, to be announced on Tuesday, that is "consistent with the direction" set by the president. In this analysis of a unique set of events since the founding of France’s Fifth Republic constitution in 1958, Mediapart political affairs correspondent Hubert Huertas argues that Hollande has turned a ruling majority into such an imposing minority that a return to the urns is demanded.

  • Palestine: Mr President, you are leading France astray

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    From his alignment with the Israeli far-right to the banning of demonstrations in solidarity with the Palestinian people, and the suggestion that this show of solidarity is in fact anti-Semitism disguised as anti-Zionism, French President François Hollande has lost his way, writes Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel. In this opinion article presented as an open letter to the head of state, he argues that Hollande has adopted a position of incoherence and hypocrisy that will bring him no political gain and which ignores the lessons of history.

  • The midnight hour approaches for France

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    The results in France of the European Parliament elections held on May 25th saw a landslide victory for the far-right Front National party, amid the disintegration of the Left and the collapse of the mainstream Right, choked by scandals and internal divisions. The worst-case scenario for French democracy is now an imminent possibility, writes Mediapart’s editor François Bonnet who argues here why, unless there is a major change to political dynamics, the far-right now has a real chance of taking the French presidency.

  • In defence of Jérôme Kerviel

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     © Reuters © Reuters

    In a dramatic move, the convicted trader Jérôme Kerviel has called on President François Hollande to offer immunity for key witnesses. These witnesses, he says, would throw a very different light on his conviction in 2010 as a “rogue trader” who lost his bank Société Générale almost 5 billion euros. Returning from a long walk to Rome, Kerviel initially said he would not set foot on French soil to start his three-year prison sentence until the president gave his response, but later crossed the border. Here Mediapart's Martine Orange makes an impassioned plea in defence of Kerviel, whom she argues has been deprived of the right of a fair and just trial to which everyone is entitled. For six years, she says, he has come up against a justice system that was blind and deaf to its own considerable shortcomings in the affair.

  • Rwanda: the dishonour of France

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    The French government pulled out of the commemorations on Monday April 7th that marked the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. This abrupt decision was provoked by the recent comments of Rwandan president Paul Kagamé about “the direct role of Belgium and France in the political preparation of the genocide, and the participation of the latter in its actual execution”, remarks which have sparked outrage in France. But though France's reaction was in line with former foreign minister Alain Juppé's demand that the government should “defend France's honour”, Mediapart's Editor-in-Chief Edwy Plenel argues that the decision not to attend the commemorations is instead a sign of France's dishonour over the tragic affair.