The first appeal made by the 'yellow vests at Commercy in north-east France. © DR
Two months ago in the small town of Commercy in north-east France a group of 'yellow vest' protestors created a citizens popular assembly. It is gaining supporters: on January 26th around 30 delegations from across France will gather in the town. François Bonnet reports on a local experiment in what some yellow vests define as “libertarian municipalism”, a concept pioneered by American social theorist Murray Bookchin.
Authorities in the French city of Bayonne are struggling to cope with the number of migrants coming from across the nearby Spanish border. Mediapart met Joseph and Moriba, 'blood brothers' who are seeking France's protection after nearly dying at sea crossing to Europe from Morocco. After a legal battle, Joseph has now been recognised as a minor by the French courts while Moriba's request will be heard on appeal shortly. Mathilde Mathieu reports.
Rabbi Haim Lumbroso with Pierrefitte mayor Michel Fourcade during Hanukah celebrations. © Sarah Smaïl/Bondy Blog
In November, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe announced that over the first nine months of this year there had been a 69% increase in reported anti-Semitic attacks in the country compared with the same period in 2017. Some urban areas are witnessing a desertification of once significant Jewish communities, and notably in the socially deprived Paris suburbs of Seine-Saint-Denis, with a relatively large Muslim population, where synagogues are closing down as increasing numbers of Jews are moving out amid religious tensions and fears of insecurity. Others, meanwhile, and notably religious and community leaders, are locally active in attempting to fight anti-Semitism through dialogue and education. Sarah Smaïl, from Mediapart’s online partner Bondy Blog, reports from Seine-Saint-Denis.
The port of Calais: dark times ahead? © Elisa Perrigueur
British Prime Minister Theresa May was in Brussels on Thursday and Friday for a frantic series of meetings to convince EU leaders to provide clarifications over her Brexit deal with Brussels, hoping for their help to obtain parliamentary approval of the agreement reached last month for the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc. But for most observers, the chances of avoiding a hard Brexit before the deadline of next March are receding by the day. In the northern French coastal town of Calais, through which tens of millions of tonnes of goods pass yearly in trade between the UK and the continent, many fear catastrophic consequences of a hard Brexit, with the very likely prospect of the Channel port becoming paralysed. Elisa Perrigueur reports.
MP Aina Kuric at a meeting in Reims, November 16th, 2018. © MJ
Aina Kuric is a Member of Parliament for France's ruling La République en Marche party east of Paris and last week she held meetings with members of local volunteer groups, small-town mayors and councillors just as the “gilets jaunes” or yellow hi-vis jacket protests over fuel prices swept across France. In doing so she experienced at first hand the deep divide that is growing between the government and a section of the population increasingly gripped by despair. Mediapart's Manuel Jardinaud joined the MP on the trip to meet her constituents.
One of the rising stars in American socialism, 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. © Reuters
The very word has been anathema in America for so long. Yet in the wake of Bernie Sanders' strong showing in the Democratic Party primaries ahead of the last presidential election, more and more Americans are calling themselves “socialists”. Some are even winning elections. Mediapart's New York correspondent Mathieu Magnaudeix gives a pen portrait of some of these new candidates on the American Left who are fighting against capitalism as much as they are combating discrimination.
Emmanuel Macron at the launch of the citizens consultation process at Épinal in north-eastern France on April 17th, 2018. © Élysée
The aim was to allow people to come up with a concept of the “Europe of tomorrow”. Hundreds of public citizen consultations have already been held across France and more will continue into the autumn in a bid to help bring the French people closer to the European Union. Mediapart has visited three such meetings held in northern France, in Dieppe, Issy-les-Moulineaux and one of the seats of the European Parliament, Strasbourg. The Élysée promised they would be no holds barred meetings. But in reality the gatherings have largely attracted people who are already pro-European or who are members of President Emmanuel Macron's ruling party La République en Marche. Justine Brabant and Ludovic Lamant report.
Displaced Rohingya demonstrating in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on August 25th. © Reuters
A United Nations report has called for Myanmar’s military to be investigated for genocide against the Rohingya people and for crimes against humanity in the treatment of minority groups in the country. The news follows demonstrations this weekend calling for UN action over the crisis by tens of thousands of Rohingya in refugee camps in Bangladesh, where more than 700,000 of the stateless Muslim people have fled since they became the target of a campaign of killings and repression launched in August 2017. As Guillaume Pajot reports from Myanmar, the persecution of Muslims is not limited to the Rohingya, but is widespread in the country whose de facto leader, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is accused of doing little to prevent.
Opinion was divided on the lakeside beach at Sillé-le-Guillaume in central west France. © Justine Brabant
In an attempt to play down the Benalla affair, the minister for equality Marlène Schiappa claimed that the issue did not interest “the people”. To test this assertion Mediapart went to her political stronghold, the central western city of Le Mans, visiting both its plusher districts where Emmanuel Macron picked up 35% of the first-round vote last year, and more working class areas. As Justine Brabant found, while the affair involving the president's bodyguard dressing in police insignia and beating up protestors has not shaken people's convictions, many profess to be weary of politics – both that of the old world and Macron's “new world”.
A photo of Blessing Matthew taken several years ago in Nigeria. © MM
Earlier this month the body of a 20-year-old Nigerian woman was found floating in the river Durance, in the foothills of the French Alps. Blessing Matthew had crossed illegally into France from Italy along a treacherous route of mountain passes increasingly used by desperate migrants. From witness accounts, it appears likely that Blessing drowned in the icy waters of the Durance while attempting to escape from one of the frequent border patrols which local migrant support groups say employ dangerously heavy-handed methods. One week later, the body of a man believed to be a migrant was found on a nearby mountainside. Mathilde Mathieu reports from the Alpine region where it is feared the springtime thaw may reveal yet more fatalities.