French weekly magazines review 26 July 2015


The French press blames France for the 25-year delay in Hissène Habré's war crimes trial. And did President Francois Hollande force Greece to drink a horse medecine he won't prescribe for crisis-hit France?


The trial of ex-Chadian dictator Hissène Habré in Senegal inspired an interesting comment from the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé. For the journal, that France had to go through a great deal of trouble to bring her former ally to court is like imagining Vladimir Putin putting his Chechnya pawn Ramzan Kadyrov on trial.

The publication says that Habré, whose trial for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture has been adjourned until September, was an authentic protégé of France, the fatherland of human rights.

True that he was a thorn in the flesh of Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, France’s enemy at the time, admits Le Canard. But as it argues, former president Francois Mitterrand’s France couldn’t have ignored the fact that 40,000 men and women were liquidated and 20,000 others tortured in Habré’s prisons during his eight-year rule.

Dozens of French intelligence agents were in N'Djamena at the time Amnesty International was screaming about Habré’s reign of terror, until his overthrow in 1990 by his chief of staff, Idris Deby.

According to the satirical weekly, several other Parisian chums have nothing to fear as death allowed the likes of Jean-Bedel Bokassa, Mobutu Sese Seko and Mali’s Moussa Traoré to escape Habré’s fate. But as Le Canard puts it, when you look at the 25 years it has taken Paris to facilitate the enrolment of the Habré case, her current Françafrique friends don’t have much to worry about.

Greece continues to be a great source of inspiration to the editorialists for yet another week.

Le Figaro Magazine reports that just two days before Alexis Tsipras’s bombshell about his country’s incapacity to reimburse the 1.6-billion-euro International Monetary Fund debt, a similar announcement was being made 8,000km away by the governor of Puerto Rico. The Caribbean island’s public debt stands at 73 billion dollars (66.5 billion euros), representing 100 per cent of its gross domestic product, according to the publication.

As Le Figaro found out, the loans contracted were essentially from hedge funds and the loan sharks set a clause requiring Puerto Rico to service its debts, before thinking about civil servant wages, the benefits of pensioners and citizens on welfare.

Hence the right-wing magazine’s conclusion that the terms of the accords slammed down the throat of the American state are more catastrophic than the bitter pills prescribed for the Greek patient.

The rule, according to the weekly, is “do what I say not what I do”. This is audacity a la Francois Hollande, says Le Figaro Magazine. It criticises the French president for encouraging Greece to accept a plan which raises the Value Added Tax from 13 to 23 per cent, the retirement age to 67, and massive job cuts in the public service and state budget. Hollande can’t even do that in France, a country with a 2.05-billion-euro public debt and a budget deficit at 4 per cent of its GDP.

Who said the Greeks have nothing to export? That's what Le Canard Enchaîné wonders. The publication popped the question after learning that the disgraced Greek Finance Minister Yanus Varoufakis had become the new darling of the French “frondeurs”, or left-wing Socialist party rebels opposed to the so-called social democratic policies of the Hollande administration.

According to the satirical weekly, the left-wing extremists are trooping with axed economy minister Arnaud Montebourg hoping he would help rekindle their leftist agenda. Varoufakis, who was sacrificed on the altar of the new Athenian austerity, will be the guest star at Montebourg’s annual summer school festival in Frangy, accord to Le Canard.

Now, if you are fed up with the charged political atmosphere and the endless bickering about the Greek debt crisis, the euro, terrorism and farmers blockading roads in protest of tumbling food prices, Marianne is recommending a destination where you can find some peace.

It’s a spread of 20 medieval-age monasteries perched 2,000 meters up the slopes of Mount Athos. It’s God’s empire on earth, writes Marianne, where communities live secluded lives in total ignorance of the ups and downs of life. The citizens recruited from all over the world are all male and Orthodox by faith   their sole aspiration being to transform the stigmas of death into values of life.

All you will need to get a permit for a four-day stay at the fantastic place is to be male, at least 18 years old and ready to share the Monks’ strict diet made up of olive, tomato and baked beans. 

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