French weekly magazines review

Revue de presse des hebdomadaires
Revue de presse des hebdomadaires DR

The French weeklies are dominated by the bombing and shooting spree in Norway in which 77 people were killed. It was a drama of unparalleled proportions, in the country of the Nobel Peace Prize and the newspapers aren’t mincing words to vent their feelings about Anders Behring Breivik.



“In the head of the monster”, Le Point, “crazily fascist”, Le Canard Enchaîné,. “Roots of hatred”, Le Nouvel Observateur; “After the carnage”, Marianne, and “Reasons for a massacre”, according to l’Express.

The conservative journal narrates the trauma of the Norwegian nation, regretting that the “Oslo killer” took the lives of almost 100 young people, under the pretext of fighting “multi-culturalism”.

Marianne argues that Anders Behring Breivik is not a crazy rascal suffering from a killing frenzy.

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Survivors of the massacre on Utoya Island gave the magazine chilling accounts of how Breivik shot dead his victims, one by one, for over 90 minutes, humming his favorite songs, as he walked past their bodies. 

It says security chiefs across Europe had been “sounding alarm bells” for over a year, about an obsession for enclosed systems, nationalistic nostalgia, fascination for plots, which have provided themes for conspiracy literature, which inspired the Norwegian killer. Marianne calls the Oslo carnage a chilling reminder for the short sighted - "the farright kills”.

Le Point runs a portrait of the monster and attempts an explanation of how he meticulously prepared his sinister scheme. The weekly publishes photographs Breivik took to illustrate the manifest he posted on the internet. According to the journal, he had a weakness for extremist ideologies and especially a vertiginous narcissus which turned out to be an explosive mixture. 

Left-leaning Le Nouvel Observateur also examines the schooling of the solitary killer. The weekly comments in an editorial that a new species of far-right extremism is about to see the light of day, after a long hibernation with the Oslo killer as precursor.

L’Express publishes a short profile of the small country which is rich thanks to revenue accruing from oil and gas. L’Express also reports that immigrants make up less than 10 per cent of the population and that they mainly come from Sweden and Poland, a small fraction hailing from Iraq and Somalia.

Le Canard Enchaîné reports that France's far-right Front National leader Marine Le Pen threatened to sue the French anti-racism organisation Mrap, which had suggested that the far right are to blame for the poisonous atmosphere prevailing in Europe.

Le Canard argues that she probably changed her mind after reading messages posted on twitter by one of her advisers. Laurent Ozon said Norway’s immigrant population had grown six-fold in 30 years which for sure explained the state of things.

Pressed to explain his comment by the online publication Rue89, Ozon argued that Anders Breivik has a strong sense of judgement and is certainly not crazy. Le Canard, underlines that “Muslim invasion” and “multiculturalism” (both far-right themes) are key topics in the 1,518 pages of explosive rhetoric posted on the internet by Breivik as he prepared to commit the heinous crime.

The weeklies also examine what some describe as cacophony in French policy on Libya.

Le Nouvel Observateur says the Elysée presidential palace and the ministry of defence are split over the way forward after four months of bombing operations have failed to force strongman Moamer Kadhafi out of office.  

The magazine quotes defense minister Gerard Longuet as saying the realities on the ground show there is no exit strategy if the coalition persists with the use of force.


The Elysée reportedly has rubbished Longuet’s opinion and that of Foreign Minister Alain Juppé, who suggests Kadhafi could be allowed to stay in Libya if he renounces civilian and military responsibilities. The imbroglio over Kadhafi brings to light difficulties faced by the Nato-led campaign to effect regime change in Libya, it says.

Le Canard Enchaîné reports an incident that underlines the confusion going on. President Nicolas Sarkozy, at the request of his controversial adviser Bernard Henri-Levy, hosted a rebel delegation from Benghazi at the Elysée, without informing his foreign minister, and that made Alain Juppé furious.

The weekly wonders how Nato is still unable to declare “mission accomplished” with all the spy planes, drones and sophisticated fighter-jets and hundreds of missiles fired on Kadhafi’s defense systems.

Le Nouvel Observateur sees no end yet to former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s long, tortuous summer, a view shared by l’Express, ten weeks after the downfall of the Socialist presidential hopeful. Nafissatou Diallo, the woman who accuses him of attempted rape, went on the offensive this week, talking at length to the press and explaining why DSK should not be allowed to walk free.

L’Express sees the interviews as a “decisive phase in the media strategy” adopted by her lawyer, Kenneth Thompson who is trying to play the race and community card.

Marianne takes a look at the man Thompson and warns that his strategy is raising tensions, and risks “offending” the District Attorney in charge. His latest moves have already forced the prosecution to postpone the hearing on the case.

Le Point says the DSK affair is “poisoning” the Socialist Party. The right-wing magazine refers to the difficulties faced by candidates in the party primaries to organise a truly political debate. Front-runner Francois Hollande is furious after being summoned by judicial police investigators to say what he knew about the Tristane Banon sexual assault case.

Le Canard Enchaîné says police officers and magistrates handling the case are convinced that something happened between the ex-IMF chief and the young woman, not the attempted rape she claims, but probably a lighter charge of sexual assault, which under French law must be prosecuted three years after it was committed.

The paper predicts a discharge, but not before prosecutors are able to cross-examine Strauss-Kahn over the allegations.


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