France

French press review 23 April 2013

Today's the day for the solemn vote in the French National Assembly which will transform the controversial bill proposing marriage for everyone into a controversial law.

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Left-leaning Libération is delighted, celebrating the move as a further step along the republican road which is paved with freedom, brotherhood and equality. The paper's editorial suggests that no future government would have the courage to attempt to reverse this law.

That's the big question on the front page of catholicLa Croix: could the law, in fact, be overturned by a future administration of a different political colour?

Before that, of course, the law has to get past the Constitutional Court. The right-wing opposition UMP is convinced that the text is riddled with contradictions, most importantly in the provisions which cover adoption, the rights of children and inheritance.

Always assuming that that hurdle can be surmounted, a legal expert questioned by La Croix doubts if the law could be overturned in the future, simply because such a move would create a blatant inequality between those married under the law and those who would wish to marry after it had been abrogated.

Those opposed to the bill say they will continue their protests even after it becomes law. They will then, of course, find themselves before the courts and, as any militant group will tell you, there's nothing like a whiff of martyrdom to get people out on the streets.

On the subject of laws, Libé notes that 35 people have been executed so far this year in Saudi Arabia, where Sharia law is strictly applied. The victims are decapitated.

Why has fiscal fraud . . . in other words, cheating on your tax obligations . . . become the French national sport? Communist paper L'Humanité thinks it has the answer.

Dossier: The Cahuzac affair

The climate of austerity has led to the cutting of no fewer than 25,000 jobs at the Finance Ministry, with the result that there are fewer inspectors and much more scope for human greed.

In 2011, according to the communist daily, less than 1% of the five million French businesses supposed to collect and pass on sales tax to the government were actually verified. And a trade union leader at the Finance Ministry explains that, for every step forward taken by the tax collection authorities, the fraudsters and their accountants take ten.

Le Monde gives pride of place to an initiative by the French Education Minister, Vincent Peillon, to introduce something called "lay morality" into the school programme. The idea is to teach kids from the age of six to 18 a non-religious moral code, based on the republican values of freedom, brotherhood and equality.

Peillon says its not an anti-religious move, nor an attempt to impose a state version of morality, but an effort to counteract the forces of dogmatism by equipping young French people to exercise freedom of conscience and individual judgement.

It's all going to start in 2015, once the teachers have been trained and those who think lay morality is a bad idea have been dispersed by the forces of law and order.

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