On air
  • RFI English Live
  • RFI French Live

Press review French

Issued on • Modified

French press review 16 August 2016


Several of the French dailies look to the inflammatory question of the burkini and more particularly the "burkini brawl", as a mayor on the island of Corsica becomes the third French mayor to ban the full bodied, head-covering Muslim swimsuit after violence on a local beach.

As burkini bans spread, Le Figaro declares the "Burkini revives community tensions" and Le Monde "Corsican authorities call for calm after intercommunal clashes".

Ange-Pierre Vivoni, mayor of the village of Sisco on the north-east coast of the Mediterranean island of Corsica says the ban is necessary to protect the population after confrontations between local youths and families of north African origin, writes Le Figaro.

Five people were injured and 100 police mobilised after the brawl, which witnesses say erupted after a tourist photographed women bathing in a burkini, with hachets and harpoons used in the skirmish.

The move in Corsica comes after similar bans in two other southern French cities over recent weeks, in Cannes and Villeneuve-Loubet, writes Le Figaro. The series of bans have sparked a controversy between advocates of strict secularism in the public space and defenders of freedom of expression.

Refugees spark German leadership tensions

Another headline of Le Monde declares "Germany is divided on the question of refugees", with Chancellor Angela Merkel facing a country which doubts her policies.

Merkel came back from her summer break yesterday, it reports, a break marked by two terrorist bombings and a shooting in Munich.

The recent events have put Merkel in an unprecedented position, Le Monde thinks, since she came to power in 2005.

In her absence it was Germany's Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière who "embodied public power" and who went to the scenes of tragedies and "made comments of unprecedented firmness".

It was also de Maizière who had to respond to the demand for heightened security and to the increasing anguish about German nationality among the citizens.

Now Merkel is back, her task, writes Le Monde, is further complicated by the election calendar - against a backdrop of a very “Islamophobic” far right which is feeding off all the doubts in German society.

With five regional elections to be held between now and the next general election, in September 2017, Merkel's popularity has slipped 12 points in the last polls, published in early August.

All that, the story concludes, just a year after the chancellor's famous "Wir schaffen das" (we will succeed) speech of August 2015, as the country prepared for the arrival of 1.1 million refugees on German soil. Now, with Merkel "forced to beef up her security agenda", the reality is "far from the euphoric pictures of Germans welcoming migrants in September 2015".

Tourism with a cause

Left-wing Libération carries a story on "the summer trend" of "humanitarian tourism".

Sociologist Xavier Zunigo looks at the reasons for the trend's emergence, with people apparently more inclined to offer a helping hand in faraway lands than at home.

For him the phenomenon is almost one of tourist entertainment or at least diversion. Only it goes deeper, with both the doing and helping aspects of the travels very present.

"The phenomenon is born of exhaustion with purely entertainment forms of tourism: travel abroad has become popular and humanitarian causes have been publicised in heroic ways," Zunigo said.

"Humanitarian tourism,” he continues, "offers an alternative to satisfy the desire to get involved." What's more "The entry fee is low, allowing people access to responsibilities, even to be in charge of tasks that they would not otherwise have the opportunity to do in a different context."

During his investigation into centres founded by Mother Teresa in Calcutta, Zunigo said he realised the tourists were pleased to be able to touch the patients, "which is not possible in France".

Death of a trade unionist

And finally the front page story of the left-wing daily L'Humanité salutes famous trade unionist Georges Séguy and his "passion for justice".

Séguy who died on the weekend aged 89, was for 15 years the head of the biggest trade union federation the CGT, making his mark on the social scene, particularly during the 1968 strikes and student revolts in France.

For President François Hollande he was the main architect of the Grenelle agreements which grew out of the strikes. The deals struck between the union and the right-wing government of Georges Pompidou led to a 35 percent increase in the minimum wage and 10 percent increase in average real wages.