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French weekly magazines review 9 July 2017


There's a rare unanimity about this week's front pages, the editors agreeing that the honours should go to the recently deceased Simone Veil, survivor of Bergen-Belsen, French government minister, president of the European Parliament.


Le Nouvel Observateur suggests that Veil represented the nation's conscience. Le Point goes as far as making her the mother of those Frenchwomen saved by her 1974 law legalising abortion.

L'Express says her life unforgettably marked contemporary French and European history.

Marianne remarks that the woman who will take her place in the Panthéon alongside others honoured by the French nation was lucky to escape being lynched during the abortion debate, one of the most violent and divisive of the Fifth Republic.

Simone Veil survived the Nazi genocide that killed her mother, brother and father.

Addressing the United Nations in 2005 she reminded the world that the horrors of Cambodia, Rwanda and Darfur proved that genocide had not been relegated to the history books. It was, and is, a terrible contemporary reality. She ended her speech with the observation that, if the Nazi extermination is an indelible part of Jewish memory, it is also part of our human heritage.

Why Donald is coming to Paris for Bastille Day

On other pages, Marianne wonders why President Emmanuel Macron has invited US leader Donald Trump to Paris for the national celebrations on 14 July.

Simple.The French leader is using his American counterpart to polish Macron's image as a figure of truly international stature.

Donald thinks Theresa May is a loser. He can't figure Angela Merkel at all. So Macron is, the American leader imagines, his kind of guy - bright, determined, business-oriented. And Trump will brandish the invitation as proof that he's not really unpopular on the world stage, Marianne believes.

Governments change, immigration policy does not

An opinion piece by Raphaël Glucksmann in Le Nouvel Observateur notes that successive interior ministers of the right, left and centre have administered exactly the same policy towards illegal immigrants - those shadows of the republic, recently bussed out of their foul-smelling "home" under a stretch of Paris motorway, forbidden access to gifts of food and water in the northern port city of Calais, causing innocent, concerned locals to commit the "crime" of showing solidarity.

Glucksmann warns that a real solution is crucial, not just for the migrants, but for those who respect the idea of France. If Macron's open society is reserved for bankers, investors and technological whizz-kids, it won't be worth living in. We'll have built our own walls and suffocate in comfort behind them.

The body beautiful

Marianne wonders why we continue to be tyrannised by the image of the perfect body.

It is summer after all and a picture of Brigitte Bardot on the beach, wearing nothing but a suntan, never did the sales of a weekly magazine any harm.

And it's all philosophically very serious, the normal desire for comfortable relaxation on the beach being undermined by an insidious series of norms which determine the acceptable human shape. There's no mention of the advertising industry or the part played by weekly magazines in promoting those norms.

Sacked for being too optimistic?

Two eye-catching items from the front page of weekly satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné.

The first concerns the former boss of the carmaker VolksWagen here in France.

He was sacked for systematically exaggerating the number of vehicles manufactured by the group being sold on the French market. And he'd been doing it since 2010, which makes you wonder about the German giant's accounting practices. Or were the bosses in Wolfsburg were happy to turn a blind eye to a form of commercial optimism that enabled them to go on claiming to be the biggest foreign car seller in France?

Stolen Stalin causes communist confusion

Le Canard Enchaîné is also worried about the whereabouts of several art treasures belonging to the French Communist Party that are currently missing.

Were talking about a portrait of Stalin by Picasso which, it is true, was criticised in 1953 for its failure to conform to the demands of social realism. Of Picasso's portrait of Marcel Cachin, for four decades editor of the party daily, L'Humanité, nothing remains but the frame. Even the dove Picasso drew for the World Peace Congress has taken wing.

The French weekly suspects that some clever comrades might have overcome their dislike of the bourgeois system and sold the party's property. For personal profit!

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