French weekly magazines review 29 November 2015

Text by: Clea Broadhurst
8 min

This week the French magazines continue to dig into the aftermath of the attacks in Paris and they offer different points of view regarding how to fight the Islamic State (IS) armed group, which many French call Daesh, but also how to understand the deadly organisation. Several ask, what are the secret services doing?


Most of the weeklies have on their covers “what are France’s weaknesses when it comes to antiterrorism”, blaming either the politicians, the experts or the secret services. They also carry out stories on the renewed patriotism that has seized France ever since the attacks.

Click here to read more articles on Paris attacks

The attacks in Paris on Friday 13 November have, in their horror, achieved at least one thing, they have put IS in the centre of a global conversation. This is how right-wing Le Point begins its editorial.

It also says it’s about time the left and left-wing media understood the mistakes they’ve been making by trying to minimise the threats of IS, when they, at Le Point, were right all along about not denying the rising “Islamist spectre”, as it headlined once during the Arab Spring.

The magazine then goes into depth on how France now has to fight and, as if to strike a balance between France’s weaknesses and strengths, it has articles on subjects ranging from “where mistakes were made” to how the French army is “at its highest operational level”.

The cover story, “How France is fighting”, goes into how retaliation is being organised - combat operations in the Sahel and Syria but also a cyberwar. Le Point is the only weekly which carries a full piece on the “second shock wave” in Mali, saying that, despite the French intervention two years ago, jihadists still strike there.

Dossier: War in Mali

L’Express headlines with “France will triumph over peril”, words taken from an exclusive interview with French President François Hollande. It also has a look ahead to the Cop21 climate change conference in Paris.

In its editorial it talks about what “resisting” means, taking the German occupation during World War II as its reference point. The major difference today is that no one imagines the Islamic State marching an army onto French territory because it doesn’t need to do so, it only needs to “occupy” the news and people’s minds, it says, adding that the first act of resistance would be to refuse falling prey to the paranoia the organisation tries so hard to spread.

A revived patriotism has seized France, L’Express says, with the colours of the French flag seen everywhere and La Marseillaise sung by millions throughout the world. “To resist now means to refuse” to be intimidated, the magazine concludes.

Left-wing Marianne chooses to headline with “National unity, can we dig it?” Like L’Express, it covers “the 10 burning questions” surrounding the upcoming Cop21.

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Marianne's editorial starts by saying that “speech has been unleashed”, contradicting the main story it had only last month entitled “Can we still debate in France?” Before the attacks words such as “Islamism", "identity" and "civilisation” were almost forbidden, because of fears of misconceptions, it says.

But there is a need to differentiate between ordinary Muslims and Islamists, it insists. In a powerful statement, Marianne says that there’s a need to “fight terrorism as if there were no Muslims in France and live with Muslims as if there was no terrorism" - a call for unity in the light of recent events that, unlike the attack on Charlie Hebdo, didn’t have a precise target but picked its victims blindly.

Le Nouvel Observateur headlines with “unveiling the Koran” leading to a religious debate. Its editorial goes into the “Arab policy”, one that’s been used and reused in France to talk about several issues, ranging from the Israeli/Palestinian conflict starting in the 1940s, the Suez invasion against Nasser in Egypt in the 1950s and the Algerian war in the 1960s.

Click for RFI reports of the Charlie Hebdo killings

But, it asks, what does the Arab policy mean today? Islam has never been so divided, Le Nouvel Obs argues. Who is the enemy? Bashar al-Assad and his estimated 200,000 victims? Or the Islamic State that gains control of more and more territory on a daily basis?

The magazine concludes that the creation of an international coalition is a real success but believing that that alone will secure a swift and decisive victory is a total illusion.

Inside stories also range from “How the suicide bombers have tricked the secret services” to “Has the government wasted time?”. Especially, Le Nouvel Obs argues, during months of parliamentary discussions over taking more security measures in the light of the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

Satirical paper Le Canard Enchaîné headlines with “How far will the state of emergency go?” By sending its most famous aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to the Middle East France has launched into the battle with a proper “weapon of mass Daesh-truction", it says.

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