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French press review 6 May 2016


How should France deal with the shadowy army of 13,000 confirmed or potential jihadists believed to live on national soil? Is simplifying divorce by mutual consent really such a good idea? What about the kids? And can far-right leader Marine Le Pen afford to sanction her niece, Marion Maréchal, whose ultra-conservative line on certain social questions is bringing in the voters?


The main story in right-wing Le Figaro says the authorities are still searching for a coherent and workable strategy to deal with the "13,000 radical Islamists identified in France" currently living in France.

No fewer than 75 different operations are spending six million euros each year in the effort to deradicalise those who have already or are likely to become holy warriors. The interior ministry is the first to recognise that the situation is confused and inefficient, and has promised to train the psychologists and social workers needed to run a serious deradicalisation programme over the next two years.

Le Figaro's editorial wonders if it's worth the trouble, suggesting that jihadists are motivated by an ideology of sacrifice and cannot be "cured".

And, alongside those who have been spotted by the police, having already been to Syria, Iraq or Afghanistan, there's the more dangerous fringe of fighters who have yet to declare themselves. Le Figaro says their number is constantly on the increase.

And then the editorial veers off into the conservative catacombs, saying that any tolerance in the name of human rights will simply dig the nation's tomb.

Those who have already committed terrorist acts in the name of Islam must be locked up forever, says Le Figaro, without any debate or remission. Because we all know that lies and trickery are, along with the bomb and the Kalashnikov, the chosen weapons of these dealers in death, it says.

Financial exaggeration and the National Front

Le Monde gives pride of place to the latest financial scandal to hit the far-right National Front.

Political parties here in France are compensated for the money they spend on election campaigns, provided they obtain at least 5.0 percent of the vote. After last year's departmental poll, for example, the National Front presented a bill of 9.56 million euros. The commission that looks into this sort of expenditure did its looking into and found that the far-right party presided over by Marine Le Pen was exaggerating a bit. By 1.2 million euros to be precise.

The matter will now go to the courts. And not for the first time. Le Pen was last in the dock following similar exaggerations in 2012, her organisation accused of fraudulently receiving public funds and complicity in embezzlement.

Aunty is less than pleased

Left-leaning Libération looks at the way Marine Le Pen is running the political as opposed to financial side of her organisation, getting rid of those suspected of links to her father and party cofounder, Jean-Marie. The boss is also showing an increasing level of hostility to supporters of her niece, Marion Maréchal Le Pen, considered by aunty to be too right-wing on several key social questions.

Divorce on demand

Catholic La Croix casts a worried eye on government plans to make divorce by mutual consent a simple formality, without any need for complicated legal machinery or any intervention by a judge.

In an editorial headlined "A triumph for selfishness", the Catholic paper laments that a move intended to take pressure off the courts may end up increasing the suffering of children.

Are people in the heat of marriage break-up best placed to make cool and reasonable decisions which will affect the future of their offspring? The proposed changes say that all minors have the right to call for a hearing before a judge. Which is not very useful if you are, say, six months old. And, even if you're 16, are you likely to be aware of your right? Or have the courage to exercise it?

La Croix accepts that modern marriage is under huge pressure but suggests that the way ahead is for society to take more interest, not less, in what the members of disintegrating families have to say. The courts may not be the ideal forum for that sort of dialogue, says the Catholic paper, but they are better than nothing.

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