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French press review 6 February 2012

The failure to curb killing in Syria and Interior Minister Claude Guéant's attempt to explain why his racist comment, about all civilisations not being equal, grab the headlines in the French media on Monday.

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Catholic La Croix gives front-page prominence to Syria, with a headline reading "Powerlessness and Anger".

The powerlessness springs from the weekend failure of the United Nations Security Council to agree what to do about the murderous regime of Bashar al Assad.

That failure was due to a Russian-Chinese veto of proposals in support of Arab League calls for the departure of Assad.

The Chinese are scared of doing anything to dislodge people in power, perhaps afraid that the winds of change are eventually going to reach Beijing.

The Russians are interested in maintaining their sole remaining regional ally. The Russian fleet has an important base in the Syrian port of Tartous, and Moscow's weapons merchants sell an awful lot of guns to Syria, and through Syria to a whole range of regional factions.

An estimated 6,000 people have died in clashed with the Syrian security forces since confrontations began about 12 months ago.

You will know that the French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, has come in for some violent criticism for his weekend comments to the effect that not all civilisations are equal.

Guéant is interviewed in today's right-wing Le Figaro, and he defends his proposition as founded on common sense and clear evidence.

What he actually meant, he explains, was that not all civilisations support the humanist viewpoint which is fundamental to right-wing republicanism.

"Who can argue," he goes on, " that there is no difference between a civilisation which favours democracy, which protects individual liberties and promotes the rights of women, and a civilisation which accepts tyranny, has no regard for freedom and denies the equal rights of men and women".

We must defend that first vision of civilisation," says the Interior Minister. And in case you're wondering what exactly Guéant means by "civilisation", he explains that too, as "the collection of characteristics which create a human group: its history, its culture, its intellectual and moral heritage."

Civilisation as a frozen monolith, sealed from all possibility of contagion, safe from the dangers of exchange, sharing, growth and development.

Minister Guéant then accuses the Socialist Party of being poor republicans, allowing the emergence of diverse trends in France, organised around cultural, religious and traditional values that are clearly not French.

Claude Guéant is the man who has organised a record number of expulsions of immigrants from France over the past 12 months (32,292 to be precise, most of them black Africans and Roma people from eastern Europe).

He was also instrumental in banning the public wearing of the full islamic veil, and the holding of Friday prayers in the street.

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