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French weekly magazines review 28 June 2015


The identity debate thrives on French fears of terrorism and migrants' invasion of Europe from the Mediterranean.

The influx of migrants fleeing war and famine into Europe has sparked a furious debate in France about the country’s asylum policies and national identity. The country is in a collision course with its European neighbors over the sharing of 153,000 migrants rescued from the Mediterranean this year alone.

Terrorist attacks perpetrated by some of its citizens of immigrant origin and rising unemployment in the country have fanned nationalist sentiments in the country with important shades of opinion calling for a redefinition of the criteria for citizenship.

“How to become French” is the cover story of this week’s Le Point.

The right-wing publication put the question to several respected historians and philosophers, claiming that France has become an ungrateful nation identifying its citizens by their origin or color of their skin.

For the weekly, the political and intellectual debate is crystallised by questions such as are you born in the country or do you have French parents – sensitive questions which have caused prejudices, confusion and discrimination, hurting the feeling of belonging to the national community.

French historian Robert Frank tells Le Point that the question “what is France” unites while another seeking a definition of what it means to be French divides. He explains that the national spirit awoken by the Charlie Hebdo attacks in January is long gone and overtaken by identity passions.

Franck argues that the feeling of belonging to the French nation remains strong, pointing out that the problem is with the rules of living together like a people of different colors and faiths. Another French academic Pascal Bruckner says the gigantic task awaiting France is to build a new contract with Islam just as it did with Christianity and Judaism.

L’Express also tackles the national identity conundrum in this week’s cover page story. According to the conservative magazine, instead of cementing the French concept of “living together” national identity had instead become the line of fracture. The journal defends the motion that what makes France is not its territory but its people.

Meanwhile, the courage of quitting NATO is a debate left-leaning Marianne wants to have with opinion leaders after WikiLeaks revelations that the US National Security Agency spied on the last three presidents: Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande.

According to the weekly, the American conduct from 2006 until 2012, despite a series of denials by the White House, is unthinkable for a country claiming to be a long-standing ally of France. The left-leaning weekly urges Paris not to tremble and to confront the Americans directly with this very serious problem.

Marianne wonders how many more revelations Paris needs before taking action other than holding defence councils. For the weekly, Paris should have the courage of staging a walk-out from NATO so that Washington can understand the gravity of its conduct.

The racist shooting to death of nine Christians in America’s oldest black church inspired a fact check by this week’s French New Observer, which now goes by the abbreviated title L’Obs, about the scourge of firearms in the United States. The magazine found that 31,000 people die in the US every year in incidents linked to fire arms: 55 per cent from suicides and 41 per cent murders.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, an average of 73,000 Americans are wounded in shootings every year, with 300 million guns in circulation in the United States in 2010.

About 10.8 million of the fire arms were guns made in 2013 alone, up from 3 to 4 million between 2001 and 2007, according to a study by the University of Chicago. The study also discovered that 47 per cent of US citizens say they own at least one firearm, according to a study by the Gallup institute in 2011.

L'Obs profiles the crazy of Russian billionaire philosopher Dmitri Itskov who is dreaming to kill death and turn the inhabitants of the planet into immortals. The transhumanist discusses his phantasmagoric works and passion to rid the world of old sick people and to turn the planet into a beautiful place through genetic research.

The journal claims that the fantasy of the science fiction machine man has become the new cloud on the horizon of innovation prophets dreaming to remain young forever.