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French press review 18 November 2017

Toto Riina, the Sicilian mafia boss, died yesterday morning in a prison hospital in Parma at the age of 87. Le Figaro looks back on the career of a man described as "the stunning incarnation of evil". Le Monde reports that the authorities in Mauritania have decided that blasphemy is a crime that merits the death sentence. Libération wonders when we are going to see some action from our political leaders and the judiciary on sexual harrassment.


Le Figaro looks at the career of the Sicilian mafia boss, Toto Riina, the godfather of godfathers, who died yesterday morning in a prison hospital in Parma at the ripe old age of 87.

The boss of all the bosses was no ordinary criminal, Le Figaro assures us. He was nothing less than the stunning incarnation of evil.

With 150 murders to his name, including that of the anti-Mafia judge Giovanni Falcone, Riina oversaw the shift in Mafia operations towards a military-style violence, threatening the very stability of the Italian state. Toto Riina liked to quote the French king Louis XIV to the effect that he was the state. A claim which Le Figaro says was far from exaggerated, at least in Sicily.

And the conservative daily notes that Riina owed his emergence from obscurity in the tiny hill village of Corleone to the influence of the American liberators of Sicily. The US was so scared of fascism and communism that they preferred to compromise with the local criminals whose motivation was at least comprehensible.

Riina went on to elimate local rivals, boasting at Christmas 1982 that he had killed more people in a single day than Al Capone managed to eliminate during the "St Valentine's Day massacres" in Chicago in 1929.

Toto Riina spent the last 24 years of his life behind bars, without a word of repentence, keeping his secrets. Even in prison, he was suspected of organising the murders of several rivals.

Mauritania to punish blasphemy with death

Le Monde's African pages carry the news that the authorities in Mauritania have decided that blasphemy is a crime which merits the death sentence.

The text passed by parliament yesterday says, "Every Muslim, man or woman, who mocks or offends Allah, or Mahommet his messenger, peace and salvation upon him, his angels, his books or one of his prophets, will suffer the death sentence, even if they repent."

Earlier this month a 30-year-old Mauritanian blogger, Cheikh Ould Mohamed Ould Mkheitir, who has been in jail for four years for writing a web article considered blasphemous had his death sentence commuted to two years in jail. Rights group Amnesty International applauded the decision but there was a broadly negaive reaction inside Mauritania.

The public prosecutor has appealed the decision, demanding the death sentence for the man who used the internet to criticise the use of religion to justify certain forms of discrimination in Mauritanian society.

No one has been executed in Mauritania since 1987.

Sexual harrassment: all talk, no action?

Left-leaning Libération gives the front-page honours to sexual harrassment in the wake of the Weinstein scandal. We've heard a lot of talk over the past six weeks, Libé says, but when are we going to see some action by our political leaders and the judiciary?

And French film star Isabelle Adjani laments the fact that, while the can of worms has been well and truly opened in Hollywood, French cinema remains, with the  exception of Léa Seydoux, stunningly silent.

Adjani says sexist behaviour is just as frequent in France as elsewhere but that certain actresses have decided to wait prudently, fearing that any effort to lift the lid on a scandal that has been buried for years could have a negative impact on their careers.

It is safer, according to Adjani, to stay in the shadows than to be burned at the stake in place of the men who committed the original crimes.

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