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French press review 19 July 2016

The aftermath of the Nice attack continues to dominate the French papers' front pages, with political infighting and the apparent desire by some individuals to capitalise on the current climate of fear.

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The main story in Le Monde examines the gulf which has opened between various French political leaders on the question of security.

Catholic La Croix wonders how far a democratic state can go in pursuit of the safety of its people, pointing out that any loss of individual liberty will represent a victory for the terrorists.

Right-wing Le Figaro is harshly critical of a left-wing administration described as blinded by its own laxist ideology.

Communist L'Humanité says yesterday's Nice ceremonies in honour of the victims were divided between emotion and tension, 40,000 people caught between sadness and anger, with the right and the far right trying to capitalise on the climate of fear and doubt which saw some participants in yesterday's ceremony heckle French Prime Minister Manuel Valls.

Left-wing Libération calls on everyone involved to show more respect for the victims and put an end to the political infighting.

Sarkozy calls for a tougher stance

Former President Nicolas Sarkozy has been leading the right-wing charge against the government. But, as Le Monde points out, Sarko hasn't bothered to get all his facts correct.

For example, the president of the French Republicans party says he's spent 18 months clamouring for legislation making the consultation of the websites run by radical Islamist organisations illegal, further claiming that the government dragged its heels in the debate and the law eventually agreed will not come into effect until next October.

Sarkozy is completely wrong:

  • Since 13 November 2014 it has been a crime to make repeated use of any website promoting terrorism. What Sarko wants is a change in the status of that crime, which is currently regarded as an act to be considered by the judicial authorities only if there are other, more serious, grounds for suspicion.
  • The former president is also wrong when he says the current government has reduced the number of people employed in the French police force. Sarkozy himself got rid of 13,000 police officers in his five years in power. The missing officers were all sacked by Sarko, with the current government having taken on a total of 1,785 policemen and women.
  • Finally, Sarkozy wants foreign nationals who are covered by the special security records known as "S sheets" to be detained, made to wear electronic tags and, ultimately, deported. "S sheets" simply indicate that some European security organisation has recommended that the activities of an individual suspected of links to radical Islam should be monitored. But the criteria are extremely variable and unclear. The French State Council ruled last year that detention on the sole basis of an S sheet would constitute arbitrary arrest.

Unlike the sense of national unity which followed the Charlie Hebdo killings, France in the wake of Nice is angry and divided. That, says Libération, is another victory for the terrorists.

Meanwhile, in Turkey . . .

Otherwise, the papers look to Turkey in the wake of last weekend's failed coup.

Libération wonders at the position of the Turkish armed forces, elements of which appear to have launched the attempted takeover, only to be defeated by dissenting colleagues and a vast popular movement in support of the current government.

Libé suspects that the medium-term outcome will be early elections followed by a series of constitutional changes that will move Turkey even closer to a presidential dictatorship.

Le Figaro says the European and US authorities are worried that the Erdogan administrtation in Ankara is using the current post-coup security drive as a sort of political purge. But neither Washington nor Brussels can do anything about it, America needing Turkish military bases to attack Islamic State armed group targets in Syria and Iraq; Brussels needing the Turks to do the dirty work of keeping Syrian refugees out of Europe.

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