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French press review 13 December 2013

No one story dominates the headlines this morning. But both Le Figaro and Le Monde look at the twin issues of immigration and integration, those perennial polemics in France.


Le Figaro declares a new report by Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on integration is cause for alarm, a suggestion that the Muslim headscarf, the hijab, would be allowed in schools being the most alarming aspect for the right-wing daily.

Other proposed measures include banning racial harassment, changes to the history curriculum and having an equality court.

In its editorial Le Figaro claims that soon the white heterosexual male will have to hide away.

The left, according to the paper, is indulging in a mania for changing society and this is going to play into the hands of the far-right Front National (FN).

A former member of the integration council, Malika Sorel-Sutter, agrees.

In an opinion piece she says that these proposals consitute "thought police" measures and that they will "déraciner" the French people - "deraciner" literally meaning uproot but figuratively meaning destroy the foundations of French identity.

All of these proposals will be discussed in January by the government, opening the next chapter in a debate that has been rumbling on since former president Nicolas Sarkozy opened a debate on national identity.

Le Monde also looks at France's foreign-born population. It headlines with the story of a leaked document from the opposition right-wing UMP party about how it is trying to claw back credibility on its immigration policy from the FN, which has a tough line on immigration and is doing quite well in the opinion polls, worrying some ahead of the EU and municipal elections next year.

According to the daily, the UMP's main proposals are that it will be tough on issues such as allowing family members to come to France and tightening up on medical care for undocumented migrants. But the UMP is flirting with proposals such as a points system for economic migrants, inspired by systems used in countries like Canada.

Aujourd'hui en France picks up on the story about a carer who allegedly poisoned six elderly patients in her charge. The 30-year-old woman, Ludivine Chambert, says that she wanted to relieve the suffering of the patients. The tabloid daily uses the story as an opportunity to look at previous cases of euthanasia scandals in France with a graphic of cases over the past decade or so. There have been about five. And a member of the French Geriatric Society, François Blanchard, points out that care workers also have a tough time.

He blames the lack of training in France for palliative care but he also says that, in his long experience, elderly people rarely request enthanasia.

Interactive map of France

On a somewhat lighter note, Libération takes a look at a very different story.

On its front page it has a picture of a letter with the words "La Poste: letters or the void". According to the paper, the post office is suffering from the massive use of email and text messages, ruining the great art of French letter writing, not to mention social bonds.

It dedicates the first three pages to exploring how these pesky new technologies are leading to the demise of a great language. In another great French tradition, they interview a philosopher to analyse the postal strike.

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