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French weekly magazine review 28 August 2016

An interview with author Salman Rushdie, who is under a renewed fatwa two decades on but predicts the end of the Islamic State (IS) armed group. Nicolas Sarkozy's popularity dives as he announces his presidential candidacy this week. And the now famous festival of Francophone film in Angoulême. These are some of the stories in the French weeklies.

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L'Obs carries an interview with Salman Rushdie in which the writer makes his forecasts on the situation with IS, Donald Trump and the European crisis, as well as more personal issues.

Still a target of Iranian mullahs and the country's hard-line Revolutionary Guards, the author of The Satanic Verses has recently published an exciting new novel "in which radicalised demonic fanatics attack New York", the magazine reports.

One of the book's main themes is the conflict between religion and reason. At the beginning Rushdie refers to an image by early 19th-century Spanish painter Francisco de Goya, entitled The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters.

And it is precisely that which we are seeing in today’s society, Rushdie comments, with all the hazy but extremist ideologies around.

Iranian fundamentalists have recently renewed the fatwa against Rushdie more than 25 years after it was first pronounced by religious leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

In February Tehran newspapers decided to jump the sum of the reward for his execution to about four million euros, according to the Obs.

To which Rushdie replies laughing, "They're obviously strapped for cash! It's truly hogwash ... For me the fatwa is ancient history."

"The Islamic State will disappear from the world map in the not-so-distant future," Rushdie predicts in the interview.

He also comments on Brexit saying that "the British committed an historic error" by leaving the EU. "An error which the country will pay for in a colossal way".

Sarko takes a popularity dive

Financial weekly Le Point reports on the latest opinion polls under the headline "Sarkozy takes a big tumble".

"The latest right-wing presidential candidate has been punished by those in his own political family," it says.

An Ipsos survey places the former French president now in the15th place in popularity among supporters of the right-wing Republicans party for the presidential primaries in November, says the report.

The findings severely punish Sarkozy, writes journalist Emmanuel Berretta, with the candidate sliding 13 points in his approval rating to 55 percent, while his main rival Alain Juppé gaines three points to reach 73 percent.

It is a bit of a mystery, Berretta says, as to why Sarko's popularity has slumped so much so quickly. 

"Perhaps he held everyone in too much false suspense before announcing his candidature early this week? Or did he slip up with his performance after the Nice terrorist attacks?" she asks.

Women against Islamism

Under the headline "Islamism: the women who say no!" left-wing weekly Marianne talks with a group of women who are battling against the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in France.

From filmmakers to teachers, famous and unknown, these women are trying to turn around attitudes and encourage a different idea of religion, it says.

One of them, Fadila Mehal, a member of the Parisian Observatory of Secularism, says Islam in France needs to take on a much more feminine front as it evolves.

In a country where women account for half of the estimated five million people of Islamic faith, they must not remain invisible either in the religious or public sphere, she says. Their voices must be heard.

The presence or absence of women in the future organisation of the Muslim community in France will be decisive, Mehal says, and "a very telling indicator of the ability of Islam in France to 'secularise' and find a compromise between modernity and faith".

"The right of women to control their own bodies, their personal situation and social rights will be critical steps in that process," she believes.

Film à la Folie

L'Express's main cultural story is "Angoulême à la Folie", referring to the famous francophone film festival currently underway in the city of the Poitou-Charente region of south-western France.

Now into its eighth year, the Angoulême festival has become the place where future successes and flops of the "seventh art" emerge.

Since its creation in 2008, big name actors and actresses flock to the festival to take a look in at many French language film premieres.

Its success can be seen in the ticket sales, up from about 10,000 in the first year to 30,000 last year.

Actress Isabelle Huppert, possibly most famous for her role in the 2001 film The Piano, is one of the guests of honour at the ninth festival, where she will present her latest film Souvenir, which isdirected by Bavo Defurne.

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