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French press review 21 December 2012
The papers are dominated by rumours about the world coming to an end this Friday, 21 December, a fear sparked by carved stone found in a Mayan site in Mexico. Experts interpret the calendar to mean that 21 December 2012 is simply the end of a 5,200-year era for the Maya and the end of 13 cycles with which they measured time. The French papers are praying for the experts to be right so that everybody can relax and look forward to Christmas.
“End of the World, see you tomorrow”, headlines Aujourd’hui en France, joking about the “first apocalypse of the internet era”.
According to the paper while the prophesy looks more like a “weapon of mass distraction”, it is provoking irrational behaviour, amid reports that some superstitious people spent the week fretting about taking refuge in mountains or bunkers with others stockpiling guns and survival kits.
The Parisian newspaper says restaurants, discotheques, bars and hotels are thanking God that 21 December 2012 is also a Friday.
According to the paper they have lined up “last day bashes” all over Paris.
It reports that a group of 250 “prospective survivors” wearing space suits and radioactive resistant outfits have a date at a Parisian pub dubbed the “last bar” where you can drink all night for a flat rate of 42 euros.
One hotel has a special “last night offer”, complete with a survival kit and a surprise “new world breakfast”.
Some 500 couples have registered on Facebook to take part in a giant “end of the world orgy” starting at 6.30 tonight in the Montgeron forest.
Aujourd’hui en France says that there is also a 100 million jackpot to win in the Euro Millions lottery this Friday for people looking to go from rags to riches once they have reached the new world.
Most papers comment on President François Hollande’s first visit to Algeria.
Libération says the much-heralded diplomatic mission ended up becoming a “missed rendezvous and a major disappointment on the political, economic and symbolic fronts”.
The paper regrets that there were no “king-size contracts” signed, apart from a deal authorising French automaker Renault to set up a factory in Oran with a capacity to produce 75,000 vehicles.
Libé regrets that Hollande indulged in “cheap seduction and buffoonery” when he confessed there had been brutality and suffering inflicted by the colonial system while skipping substantial issues such as the military’s stranglehold on the country that kept Algeria’s out of the Arab Spring.
La Croix looks back at 12 years of efforts by Paris to repair the ravages of French colonial policy. For the Catholic daily the two countries need a “pedestal of truth” to resolve the deep-rooted misunderstandings.
L’Humanité also comments on Hollande’s address to Algeria’s National Assembly, pointing to what it terms a “timid recognition” of France’s colonial past.
According to the paper, it was not enough to pronounce the word “torture” without condemning the “horrible suffering inflicted on the Algerian people not by isolated individuals but by colonial institutions acting on orders from the highest authorities of the French state”.
For Aujourd’hui en France while Hollande’s “small steps” in Algeria may be necessary for confidence building but everything remains to be constructed, “the walls, the framework and the roof”.
The paper says that the issue of an international military intervention in Mali remains “problematic” to Hollande and his Algerian counterpart Abdelaziz Bouteflika, despite the green light given to the operation on Thursday by the UN Security Council.
As a 3,300-strong African force gets set for the military operation to dislodge the Al-Qaeda-backed regime on northern Mali, L’Humanité argues for more consideration of the political aspect of the French-sponsored resolution.
According to the Communist Party daily it calls for the involvement of the northern Tuareg rebel groups in negotiations on restoring constitutional order. Only a “concerted national dialogue” will enable the people of Mali to rebuild their country, it believes.