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French Weekly Magazines Review 7 January 2018
Reflections on the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris three years on. It's official, Yoga is good for you! And, "The true story of a French suburb."
I've paper copies of just two of the French weeklies this morning. More from them later.
The covers of other serious weeklies which can be viewed online let us know what we're missing.
Marianne's cover tells readers "More than ever, let's be Charlie."
With accompanying text saying "Three years ago we were 4 million in the streets. Today - how many?"
And, "Defending freedom of speech against the fundamentalist menace."
For those who didn't know, on January 7 2015 at about 11:30 local time, two brothers, Saïd and Chérif Kouachi, forced their way into the offices of the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Armed with rifles and other weapons, they killed 12 people and wounded 11 others.
The paper had run cartoons deemed offensive by some Moslems, and the slaughter was the Jihadist brothers revenge.
For the record, Charlie Hebdo was an equal opportunity offender whose savage satire targeted all faiths and communities.
Along with sorrow and outrage, the incident prompted prolonged soul searching in France about what limits, if any, there should be on freedom of expression.
Marianne's cover story suggests the anguished debate continues.
The weekend magazine of left-leaning Libération also recalls the killings with the headline "To be Charlie - three years after."
The cover of Valeurs Actuelle pictures French President Emmanuel Macron with the headline "Macron and Islam."
The conservative mag is less than impressed. "His silence. His blindness. His strategy." Inside, it promises an "investigation into the President's great taboo."
Le Journal du Dimanche goes with an exclusive interview with the Prime Minister Edouard Philippe in which he delivers the good and the bad news on the French economy, promises to continue cutting taxes and explains how lowering the speed limit of 90 km per hour on some stretches of road to 80 km per hour will save lives.
So what of the mags we have to hand?
Le Point's cover story is more relaxed, which comes as a welcome relief.
It's all about Yoga, which brings "Health, concentration, energy . . ." we're told.
Evidently we must "Go with the flow. Not swim against the current of life."
Inside, the conservative weekly promises to tell us what scientists have to say about the benefits of new uses of the ancient discipline.
Le Point devotes 18 pages to its enquiry which offers fascinating insights in a practise which dates back 3,500 years.
The headline news is that Yoga, until recently popular, in the West at least, mostly with Hippies, is now recognised by science as an exercise that really does you good.
Not just physically but mentally also.
Le Point tells us that Yoga is now used by psychiatrists to fight depression and other conditions and is proving very effective.
Psychoanalyst Christiane Berthelet Lorelle calls Yoga "The anti-chamber to psychotherapy."
She began exploring its usefulness for her patients, deeply troubled adolescents, in 1983. "I tried a number of things," she recalls. "But in the end it was Yoga which payed off."
Learning to control their breathing and their body shape gave the youngsters access to an interior space where they could experience their true feelings and communicate them to her, she explains.
Yoga is proving effective as a complimentary treatment for a host of common illnesses including, for example, hypertension, back pain, problems with the digestive system, incontinence, avoiding obesity and achieving an ideal BMI, that's the Body Mass Index, used to determine whether you are in a healthy weight range for your height.
Le Point sketches the history, principles and different schools of Yoga. We learn that it was largely unknown outside India until it was discovered by English colonialists there.
Not any more. Which must count as that all too rare phenomenon Very Good News.
L'Obs takes its readers to Trappes, a town with 30,000 inhabitants to the west of Paris, promising "the true history of a French suburb."
Why Trappes? "In France, the suburbs have been the subject for thirty years of passionate debate; even hysteria. We chose to conduct the investigation in Trappes, a city that focuses all major events that shook the country," l'Obs explains. "Immigration, education, urban renewal, religious renewal, it faces all the challenges of today, the last of which is that, given its size, Trappes has seen more of its young people join the Jihadists in Syria than any other town in Europe."
The headline is "From communism to communitarianism", which is to say divided communities resistant to integration.
It might have been "Out of the frying pan and into the fire."
Maybe the people of Trappes should try yoga.