French weekly magazines review
The French government’s austerity budget plans share the limelight with growing fear of Islam in the country, in this week’s magazines.
With the structural elements of the 2013 budget already in the public domain as the magazines went to press, most of them are out swinging with questions about who will pay, and the rational behind trying to raise 37 billion euros through taxes and spending cuts at a time of zero economic growth.
Marianne is up in arms against President Hollande explaining without ideological prejudice the categories of income earners who will pay for the new taxes, the spiraling debt and the government’s austerity policies. The left-leaning magazine claims in an editorial that what they are offering is a Greek-style headlong rush leading to disaster.
Le Point says the persisting grim economic situation continues to eat into President Hollande’s tumbling approval ratings, leaving him on the verge of becoming France’s most unpopular leader in living memory. The right-wing magazine virtually anointed former French President Nicolas Sarkozy as its "Man of the Week".
The conservative publication has a photograph of an unshaven Sarkozy on its cover page with the caption “Hello! Here I come”. Le Point offers intimate details about his new life away from the glare of cameras, his plans to create a Sarkozy Foundation and the fake friends hanging around him dreaming about his return to politics.
L’Express goes big on the debate about Islam in France. The conservative publication says fear of the religion is breeding tensions and endangering social cohesion in the country. It cites as evidence the ban of the Islamic veil in schools, the Niqab in public places, the polemic about Halal meat, the Mohamed Merah anti-Jewish terrorism affair, the anti-Mohamed amateur video and the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
L’Express points to an irony of sorts. The “Islamophobia temptation” the journal says, is rising at a time when the vast majority of France’s Muslims never felt so good about being French.
Le Nouvel Observateur points to 30 years of obstacles as the root cause of Islam’s stigmatisation in France. The left-leaning magazine also rebukes the Socialist government, whose hands are trembling over the issue of voting rights for foreigners.
Le Point says, “it is not Islam that is causing anxiety in France but Islamism." The right-wing publication points to Salafism, a fundamentalist movement previously unknown in the country. The journal dispatched reporters to Tunisia, where the hardline Islamists are threatening to steal the gains of the country’s democratic revolution.
Le Nouvel Observateur publishes an album of six spectacular photographs of what we don’t see and what we no longer see, which were on display at the "Visa Pour l’Image” International Photo Journalism Festival in the southwestern French town of Perpignan. Some of the very graphic clichés were taken in Africa.
There is a picture of a madman, his head protruding from a hole in a wall, which he reportedly dug with his teeth. It was taken in Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo in July 2011.
Another captured the miserable conditions in lawless Somalia. The photographer explains in the caption that half of the country’s people are mental patients rendered insane by the war and abandoned to traditional healers, charlatans and religious zealots.
The third is the shot of an old weed-smoking Ethiopian Rastafarian man. He is leaning on a wall, the map of Africa in the background, imploring his almighty God Jah and their prophet the late Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie to bring greater harmony to the world.
Le Nouvel Observateur says 220,000 photo lovers took part in 27 symposiums and conferences organised across Perpignan, as well as the evening screenings in the open air medieval enclosure of Campo Santo.