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French weekly magazines review

Text by: William Niba
4 min

The use of live ammunition by South African police against striking miners left 44 people dead and attracts angry comments in this week's magazines.

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Le Canard Enchaîné expresses shock at the brutality exhibited by both parties in what was supposed to be a strike over wages - a “machete wielding army on one side and elite police armed with automatic pistols and assault rifles on the other”.

Le Canard quotes The Sowetan newspaper saying that the massacre was “nothing more than a defence of white money and the ANC in power”.

Others, the magazine says, consider the miners’ demands as “unrealistic and dictated by a workers' union bent on sapping the authority of the main labour union, Cosatu”. According to the weekly, it all boils down to “a question of black poverty” – the “poverty-stricken black workers at the platinum mine, the policemen who are now black and poverty which has remained the condition of black people despite the end of apartheid”.

Le Point also comments on what it describes as “South Africa’s mine of shame” According to the conservative weekly, the ruthless manner in which the police crushed the Marikana miners’ strike “weakens the ANC government in power and awakens old demons”.

It recalls the 1969 shooting by apartheid police of 69 blacks as they protested at the introduction of Afrikaans as the teaching language in South African schools.

Le Nouvel Observateur exposes a controversial law passed by Rwanda’s parliament. The bill authorises the “interception of all communications, text messages and phone calls without prior judicial authorisation”, on grounds of national security.

The magazine has learned from opposition sources that the measure is the “latest in a battery of laws aimed at silencing critics”. Key Rwandan allies like the United States have suspended military aid to Kigali after the UN accused the government of supporting the M23 rebellion in North Kivu region of the DRC.

Le Point looks at the worsening civil war in Syria, reporting that “torture, snipers and a holy war are now the order of the day in the opposition stronghold of Aleppo”, where mercenaries and Jihadists have “taken over the training of the Free Syria army for better and for worse”.

L’Express says Sunni Islamists, who constitute a minority in the rebels' ranks, are “taking advantage of the worsening conflict to play their cards and time is on their side”. Le Nouvel Observateur warns that the conflict is “threatening the existence of Lebanon”.

It says that, while the Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah supports the dictator in Damascus, he can’t ignore that his party is split over the Syrian drama. That is a development that could spark a new war involving the country’s religious communities.

Marianne says “rumours and threats of terror attacks raise fears of a return to chaos” in Lebanon, still traumatised by 30 years of Syrian occupation, a 15-year civil war and a string of assassinations allegedly masterminded by Damascus.

The French story attracting the most comments in the magazines is the return to Paris of a sun-tanned François Hollande after a two-week holiday.

Le Canard says the president's brief sojourn at Brégançon Castle in the French Riviera, seemed to be a lifetime to Hollande’s political opponents. The satirical weekly says it was refreshing to see him “alight from the train in great shape and high spirits” ready for work.

Work he will have, says Le Canard, after the “pounding” he was subjected to by his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy and UMP opposition attack dogs for his alleged inaction and lack of courage. The weekly says it has no doubt now that Left Front leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon, who backed Hollande against Sarkozy, has jumped ship, after describing Hollande’s first 100 days in Office as “wasted time”.

Marianne has awarded the French people the “gold medal of pessimism” as they continue to lose confidence in the future. The magazine’s decision is based on the results of a new Harris interactive survey, which found out that the French (including their football team) have been down in the dumps for decades, well before the great depression.

Marianne says they are the “undisputed downbeat and depression champions of the world”, haunted by the terrible idea that their tomorrow will always be an ugly one.

The study concludes that “living in France could reduce your probability to live a happy life by 20 per cent”. Asked what it will take to make them happy, respondents made 44 wishes. The top three being good health, a happy marital life and to have a good stable job.

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