French weekly magazines review
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The French weeklies are dominated by the publication of the second volume of the memoires of former French president Jacques Chirac, the Strauss-Kahn affair and the continuing debate about sexual abuse in France.
The Chirac memoires were highly awaited due to the tormented moments that marred relations with his successor Nicolas Sarkozy. In a ravaging phrase quoted by all the week’s newspapers, Chirac describes Sarkozy as “irritable, rash and full of himself”.
The left-leaning Le Nouvel Observateur, sees the remarks as sweet revenge pointing out that Sarkozy did not vote for Chirac, both in 1995 and in 2002. Chirac himself listed “remaining shadow spots” in their relationship. He recalls almost dismissing him for insubordination, especially after clumsy remarks he made while serving as interior minister about using power hoses to clean up crime-infested townships.
Le Point also headlines on Chirac’s explosive remarks but argues that he spoke his mind without hatred and without indulgence. The right-wing weekly highlights Chirac’s position that they never shared the same views about France and don’t agree on basic principles. Le Point also comments on Sarkozy’s so-called “new mask” as he tries to capitalize on a facelift in the polls.
The magazine reports on the transformation of Monsieur Sarkozy. According to the weekly, he is displaying a discretion unseen during his first four years in office. Le Point claims that Sarkozy has finally understood that his erratic style and zeal to comment about everything is hurting his presidential posture. The journal quotes the president’s communications chief admitting an initiation phase in Sarkozy’s presidency which he says is now over.
The DSK affair is one issue Sarkozy has advised his cabinet not to comment about. The former IMF chief appeared in a New York court this week to plead ‘not guilty’ to charges of sexual assault. Le Nouvel Observateur notes it was an express audience that lasted five minutes followed by a ground-testing clash between the two parties.
The weekly reports that Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers have announced they now have irrefutable evidence to prove there was no use of force during the sexual encounter. Defense attorneys fired back, warning that all of Strauss-Kahn’s power, money and influence throughout the world will not prevent the truth from coming out.
L’Express lists a battery of psychological, media and judicial actions defense lawyers are assembling for the trial slated to open in six month’s time. The right-wing magazine predicts a tough battle for the defense, as it faces American legislation on the so-called Rape Victim’s shield. L’Express says more lobby groups will capitalize on that to stage protests outside the court building, hoping to whip up political sentiments which could influence the jury’s verdict.
Anne Sinclair, the beleaguered wife of Strauss-Kahn, is subjected to intense scrutiny by Le Figaro magazine. She appears on the cover page of the rightwing publication, holding her husband by the arm, under the caption, “The Anne Sinclair mystery”. Le Figaro wonders why she continues to stand by her man and how she has managed to remain so cool and dignified. The magazine undertook an inventory of her vast fortune - of art collections and real estate property inherited from her billionaire grandfather. Le Figaro estimates that the trial proper could cost her up to 2 million dollars, and comments that she is ready to spend without blinking if that can rescue her husband.
L’Express publishes an appeal by a French historian about the urgency of tackling sex tourism in the Maghreb. The article follows claims by whistle blower and renown philosopher Luc Ferry that an ex-French cabinet minister had molested boys at a Moroccan orgy and that senior figures covered it up.
Pierre Vermeren, is the author of a new book on the Origins of the Democratic Revolution in the Maghreb. He claims that the Arab Spring is also an uprising for dignity. Vermeren jokes that it is not in Cairo, Djerba or Marrakech that Paris-bound sex criminals can be taken out of planes.
L’Express also examines the political stalemate in Morocco where the monarchy has hardened its stance against the 20 February movement, just as a committee charged with proposing institutional reforms prepared to submit its report to King Mohamed VI. The times have changed, claims the magazine, which points out that riot police used force to break up protests against torture in Temara, Rabat, Casablanca and Tanger.
L’Express underlines two incidents which could push the King to re-think his political priorities - the 28 April terrorist bombing in Marrakech and a failed attempt by young Islamists to disrupt the royal Mawazine cultural Festival in Rabat.
The right-wing magazine holds that the timetable for institutional reforms remains on course with a referendum on a new democratic constitution due in July and general elections in October. It also explains that King Mohamed is keen to remain the only captain on board, a position that has cast doubt over his readiness to cede significant portions of his vast royal powers to an elected prime minister.
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