A Week In France #1: “He was killed for his ideas”

Every Sunday, La Jeune Politique looks back on the events that made the news in the past week, giving you the chance to catch up on the articles you missed and more.

Tuesday, May 28

The French National Assembly voted in favor of the bill introduced by Minister for Higher Education and Research Geneviève Fioraso that allows for Anglophone instruction in courses unrelated to English in French universities. The bill set off a national outcry. Conservatives feared that the bill would weaken France’s cultural distinctiveness. Voices on the left, meanwhile, warned that Fioraso’s law would help make the French language obsolete.

A report by the Human Rights Defender criticizes the excessive use of non-lethal weapons Taser and Flashball by the French police. It lists several cases where the security forces have abused, misused, or even not respected the frame of use of their weapons and the Defender concludes in favor of a curtailment in usage.

Wednesday, May 29

A significant milestone was reached as Vincent Autin and Bruno Boileau became the first gay couple to formally wed under France’s recently passed gay marriage law. The law, which had been passed ten days before the wedding, had proven highly controversial, sparking violent protests from the far-right and religious groups.

After escaping from a prison in Lille six weeks ago, Redoine Faid was arrested during the night by the police. He was then presented to a judge and sent back to jail where he was ordered to spend 21 of the 31 years he was sentenced to. He was first condemned for several armed burglaries in the 1990s.

Thursday, May 30

French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine was placed in custody after he attempted to flee France while he forbidden to leave the country. Takieddine is related to several political scandals, principally the sale of weapons that were used in a terrorist attack in Karachi, killing 11 French citizens. He is also suspected to have been involved in the illegal financing of Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 Presidential campaign by former Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

Friday, May 31

On World No Tobacco Day, Marisol Touraine, the French Minister of Health, announced that the government wants to ban electronic cigarettes for minors (under 18 years-old), and forbade any kind of advertisements for the product. She also announced that e-cigarettes would be banned in public places, including bars and restaurants, since “the rules that apply to the [traditional] cigarette must apply to electronic cigarettes.”

Saturday, June 1

Front national (FN) leader and member of the European Parliament Marine Le Pen may face charges over inciting racial hatred after a special vote in the EP. In a December 2010 speech, Le Pen compared Muslims praying in French streets to France’s Nazi occupiers. Now, however, it seems that her privileges of office may no longer shield Le Pen from prosecution.

Monday, June 3

Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, as known as NKM, was designated as candidate for the 2014 municipal elections in Paris by 58.16% of the votes during the first round of the local primary elections of the Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP). Despite the widespread contestation about the legitimacy of the vote, all of the former candidates called for the support of NKM against the left in Paris, urging their supporters to rally around her.

After news of Ryanair’s violations of French labor laws was released last week, Air France and its Irish subsidiary CityJet will now take their turn in court for similar violations. Air France and CityJet are accused of applying Irish rules to work based in France. Their French employees paid taxes and social contributions in Ireland, while the companies had premises in France and their airplanes, registered in Ireland, were refueled there.

The latest chapter of the “Tapie Affair” is unfolding, based upon evidence and speculation that places the spotlight on Pierre Estoup, one of the three judges of the arbitration tribunal that presided over the case. At the age of 86, Estoup has been indicted for charges of fraud as evidence of a suspicious relationship he had with Bernard Tapie’s lawyer emerges. The last time the Affair made headlines was when Christine Lagarde, current Managing Director of the IMF, was accused of being complicit in forgery and embezzlement of public funds.

Tuesday, June 4

Hollande is visiting Marseille for the first time since his election for the inaugurations of both the cargo ship and the Musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, or the MuCEM, which will open its doors to the public on Friday. While Hollande meant to send a positive message to the people of Marseille, his speech and his presence were controversial. His presence was criticized by PS deputy Mennucci, while 100 union workers organized a protest against their working conditions in the port of the city. Furthermore, local PS officials Sylvie Andrieux and Jean-Noël Guérini are in trouble with the law.

While the Turkish demonstration in Istanbul against a governmental project to build a commercial center on a symbolic park of the city, solidarity protests have taken place in Paris. La Jeune Politique reported from the Parisian Turkish community.

Thursday, June 6

Early in the morning on Thursday, June 6, police confirmed the death of Clément Méric, a student and social activist at the Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) in Paris.  The 19-year old student and anti-facist activist received a fatal blow during a brawl with a group of young skinheads, members of a subculture movement of the far-right.  Eight suspected individuals have been taken into custody by French law enforcement as of Friday morning.

Coming up on La Jeune Politique

The French government confirms that chemical weapons are being used in Syria, where two French journalists were kidnapped. The European Commission will impose custom penalties on Chinese solar panels and Latvia is likely to join the Euro currency, while Swiss bank UBS is put under investigation for helping wealthy French escape taxes. And, of course, the latest news as it develops.

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