French press review 22 September 2012
The rise of Islamist fundamentalism in France, the reactions of National Front leader Marine Le Pen and same sex marriage are three main issues attracting most comments in today’s papers.
“Who are these French Salafists”, asks Libération as it investigates radical Islamist groups which have vowed to take to the streets this Saturday to denounce the Charlie Hebdo cartoons mocking prophet Mohamed, despite calls for restraint coming from several Moslem leaders.
The left-leaning paper found out that the followers of the ultra-rigid branch of Islam, now a cause of concern to the government, are mostly second and third generation converts. Libé says the disparate galaxy is not just composed of fundamentalists but also of absolutists pushing a hidden Islamist political agenda.
Libération says banning the demonstrations under the pretext of protecting public law and order wasn’t the right decision. The paper believes those denied the right to demonstrate against the mockery of their Prophet, do have the same freedom of expression rights as Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper which published the “wicked” Mohammed cartoons.
Aujourd’hui en France/Le Parisien also headlines on the tensions over the cartoons, ahead of the planned demonstrations. The paper found out that a mass mobilization drive is being carried out on internet, urging French Moslems to defy the government ban on demonstrations.
Le Monde on its part examines an attempt by Far-Right National Front leader Marine Le Pen to draw political capital from the standoff over the Moslem anger over the cartoons. In an interview Madame Le Pen called for a ‘total ban’ of the wearing in public of the Muslim veils and Jewish skullcaps in France. The National Front leader also repeated calls for bans on public prayers, kosher and halal foods in schools and foreign government financing mosques in France.
Le Monde notes that President Francois Hollande wasted no time to denounce her comments. Hollande said that "everything that tears people apart is inappropriate”. He appealed to the French people to “apply only the rules that they know”, the rules of “the Republic and secularism".
The paper also highlights a stinging rebuke of the Le Pen remarks by Jean-Francois Copé, who leads the right-wing opposition UMP party of former president Nicolas Sarkozy. Le Pen he said, showed “little understanding of France's much-vaunted secular traditions”, according to Le Monde.
Le Figaro’s cover page story is on the Pope’s emphatic objection to the planned legalisation of same sex marriage by France’s Socialist-led government. According to the conservative paper, Pope Benedict XVI has definitely “invited himself to the debate” after he declared that the “French family is in danger” due to the government’s policy.