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French press review 26 February 2015

France's attempt to come to terms with its muslim population, Alexis Tsipras' will to soften Athens' immigration policy and the issue of on-line appartment rentals in Paris... Here are today's main stories in the French newspapers.

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Le Monde and catholic La Croix both give pride of place to attempts by France to come to terms with its muslim population.

The main headline in the catholic daily says that "Islam in France faces the test of reform," which is certainly a bit hard on the vast majority of French muslims who simply want to get on with their lives and are just as terrified as the rest of us by lunatics who think murdering people is a reasonable demonstration of religious conviction.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

But the French Interior Minister says he wants to create a structure to facilitate dialogue between the government and all shades of muslim opinion.

The other problem being that the lunatics don't do dialogue, they do attrocities. The government will be talking to the wrong people.

There's already a parallel structure to facilitate communication between the authorities and the catholic church, with the crucial difference that catholics, recently at least, have not been shooting cartoonists and Jewish shoppers.

La Croix says French islam is a multi-facetted entity, unlike the monolithic Catholic Church, and this won't make real dialogue any easier.

The new forum won't have much effect, says La Croix, but that doesn't make it useless. It will at least facilitate mutual comprehension and help to identify fears and doubts on both sides.

Le Monde points out that an earlier attempt to ease conversations between the state and members of France's second largest community of believers, that was Nicolas Sarkozy's 2003 French Council of the Muslim Faith, failed because of power struggles between muslims of Algerian, Moroccan and Turkish origin. And Sarko's council was never able to bring a sufficient number of heavyweight intellectuals on board.

But the centrist paper agrees that the new initiative is worth a shot, if only because it will make the them-and-us thinking promoted by the extreme right Front National more difficult to sustain. That has to be a good idea.

Having recently been good to the Greeks, Brussels has decided to give France a few more years to get its budget deficit within sight of 3 percent of national production capacities.

It's a scenario worthy of Don Juan's promise to settle down and be faithful to the little wife...everybody knows it's a pure fiction but pretending to believe it keeps the nervous gentlepersons at the European Central Bank happy.

The only problem is that Don Juan's got to wear an ankle braclet...and Manuel Valls has three months to produce the next chapter, giving details of how he's going to close the gap between what the country spends and the few centimes which continue to trickle in.

Speaking of Greece, Le Monde says the new government of Alexis Tsipras is planning to soften Athens' immigration policy.

This is good news for those for whom Greece has long been an overland way into the European Union. The problem is that the local economy is not exactly flourishing and the 26 percent of the local population who are unemployed represent serious competition on the jobs market.

So the migrants move on in search of greener pastures. The people who own those pastures, like Angela Merkel, are getting hot unter die collar. Not only are we paying their bally debts, Angela might have said, but we also have to pay so that they can have a humane immigration policy.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Libération looks at the way on-line appartment rentals for the tourist sector are having a negative effective on the Paris housing market.

The problem is that the very high rents which tourists are prepared for apartments in central Paris are driving out ordinary renters, already struggling in a savage market where demand far outstrips supply.

The Paris town hall is to meet, this very morning, the boss of the site Airbnb, one of the market leaders, to discuss the relative advantages of rampant capitalism and benevolence. It's sure to be a lively discussion.

And then there's communist L'Humanité, worried at the plight of the half-a-million long-term unemployed who risk losing their status, and much of their income, because of new government regulations. There's to be a meeting early next month, and a strike.

That should sort it!
 

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