French press review 21 September 2012
The papers are shooting in all directions this morning.
Le Monde managed to reach the British writer Salman Rushdie for a one on one on his just published memoirs. The book titled Joseph Anton is about Rushdie’s life in hiding after a fatwa was issued in response to The Satanic Verses written in 1988.
The paper says he remains unrepentant, and talks of Islam’s “medieval ways” in the book, despite living under police protection due to a 23 year-old Iranian Fatwa hanging over his head. Teheran assured Britain in 1998 that it would not implement the Islamic death sentence, but on Sunday, an Iranian foundation increased the bounty on Rushdie’s head to 2.5 million euros. The Khordad Foundation said that if Rushdie had been killed earlier, the anti-Islam film currently enraging Muslims would never have been made.
Le Monde also examines the dangerous escalation involving Japan and China over the East China Seas Islands. The enclave is rich in fish and probably gas and oil and the paper says the week-long muscle-flexing by the two superpowers is an extremely dangerous game in a high risk area.
The affair has grown beyond a bi-lateral dispute, says Le Monde as it watches the mediation mission to Beijing by US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta. The paper attributes the incidents to China’s nervousness towards its neighbours in the Pacific and to the “excessive secretion of political nitro-glycerine”, as Beijing prepares for a delicate 18th Communist Party political transition congress in a few weeks, expected to be marked by the renewal of the country’s entire political leadership.
Libération is causing raised eyebrows as it suspects the government of planning to reintroduce the Social Value-Added Tax. The left-leaning newspaper says that, amazingly, the fiscal measure long-defended by President Nicolas Sarkozy as a weapon against France’s competitive deficit, but violently criticised by the Left at the time, is now one of the options on the Prime Minister’s table.
Libé says it understands the embarrassment of ministerial advisers as they have to put up the advert about “a Leftist government in search of a name for a tax invented by conservatives in February and scrapped by error in July”. This, according to Libération, illustrates the rather funny situation in which Prime Minister Jean-marc Ayrault finds itself as he struggles to implement a disjointed economic agenda.
Le Figaro satirizes about the Socialist party’s backtracking on the promise to end the holding of multiple posts by elected officials. The right-wing newspaper says Socialist lawmakers are reluctant to respect the campaign pledge made by President Francois Hollande, forcing the prime minister to postpone the reform until after municipal elections in 2014.
Les Echos puts up a billboard warning about a storm at the French electricity giant EDF. The economic newspaper reports that managers at the Fessenheim nuclear power station still don’t understand President Hollande’s decision to shut down the plant hosting France’s oldest nuclear reactor.
Les Echos estimate that 2200 jobs are set to be lost when the plant shuts down, quoting union sources.
L’Humanité takes a look at living conditions for some in Saint Denis, a town just north of Paris. The Communist Party newspaper reports that some tenants in the predominantly immigrant neighbourhood have become hostages of the slum landlords who rent out ramshackle flats at unreasonable rates. The paper highlights efforts and a few new ideas being tested by local officials to fight against the scourge.
La Croix turns the flood lights on Islamic paintings which have become a major attraction at Le Louvre since President Francois Hollande opened the new 98.5-million-euro wing of Islamic art at the museum. The catholic daily says you can under an overlooking golden curtain several hundreds of paintings and priced objects from the Moslem World on display in jewel boxes.
Le Parisien/Aujourd’hui en France pays a glowing tribute to Sheila as the pop star of the 60s celebrates the 50th anniversary of an outstanding musical career.