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French press review 29 December 2015

Text by: Clea Broadhurst
7 min

Today’s French papers give equal coverage of events in Corsica and the debate surrounding the stripping of dual nationals of their French nationality in terrorism-linked cases.


Le Monde leads with the aftermath of recent events in Ajaccio, the regional capital of Corsica, the "Isle of Beauty". It looks at the violence over the weekend after firefighters were attacked on Christmas Eve, leading to a surge of xenophobia with many blaming the Muslim community. 

The paper's editorial says this is unacceptable.

The fact that the firefighters were attacked on the one hand and on the other the fact that a small part of the population took the law into its own hands.

The paper underlines the fact that this surge of Islamophobia comes right after a Corsican nationalist party won control of the region. “An unfortunate coincidence,” according to Corsican authorities. 

The events may not be party political, the paper says, but they clearly reveal an identity issue, maybe an "excessive" one in Corsica. But, to be fair, this identity crisis is is not confined to the small island but affects all France. 

Echoing this, Communist paper L’Humanité's headline reads “Corsica, the mirror of a racism-plagued France.” The main story says that the government, instead of preventing insecurity, seems to be feeding it, repeatedly declaring that France is at war. 

The new president of the Corsican assembly Jean-Guy Talamoni said that those shouting slogans of hatred against the Muslim community do not vote for the nationalists but rather for the Front National. And L’Humanité says that the island could see an increase in the far-right party’s popularity in the future. 

Right-wing Le Figaro zeroes in on the government's proposal to strip some people of their dual nationality. President François Hollande is trying hard to win over his own party, its headline tells us.

He already has the right-wing Republicans' support for rewriting the constitution. However he will have to convince the Socialists to win a majority in Parliament.

Members of the president’s party have launched a witch-hunt against the proposed amendment, Le Figaro's editorial says, all of them quick to jump at the president’s throat, telling anyone ready to listen that this is unacceptable.

But it concludes by saying that if Hollande has made this decision, it’s only because the public agrees with it. And why not, Le Figaro asks, after such a deadly year? It ends by saying it’s about time the Socialists realised that France is indeed at war.

For once left-leaning Libération seems to agree with Le Figaro.

It seems to back Le Figaro's argument that, althoug leading Socialist politicians are voicing their anger at the proposal, the rank and file and the French people in general may not agree with them. 

Its editorial compares the situation to a well-shuffled deck of cards. The paper says that the only sure thing is that no one seems to have any convictions any more, whether on the right or the left. 

Would the measure stop anyone perpetrating an attack, the paper asks. No but, according to the people Libération surveyed, any measure, even a symbolic one, to counter terrorism is a good one.

Catholic newspaper La Croix is the only paper not carrying either of the stories. Its editorial headlines with “Weaken Daesh” (the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State armed group, often used by the French). 

It says that, although IS has just suffered a defeat in Iraq, that doesn’t mean that it has been weakened. The loss of Ramadi is an important victory for its opponents, however, the paper says.

But from now on, fighting IS means having some patience because its implosion will be a slow one. And if peace talks just started for Syria, that doesn’t mean the primary goal is to have a united front against IS right now. First of all, there must be change of government in Damascus, the paper says. 

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