Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Le Point sur l'actu française

Abdelkader Bouziane has 16 kids in France
• Abd al-Kader Bouziane, left, the Salafist imam of Vénissieux who preached wife beating and was hastily expelled from France (for more info see here, here and here) has been granted a visa to return.

• During yesterday's demonstration against anti-Semitism, Green MP and mayor of Bègles (Gironde) Noël Mamère was splattered with ketchup and kicked by a gang of youths.

Mamère is another inevitably fashionable critic of Israel. He is also author of Dangerous America: Chronicle of an Announced War (published in January of 2003) and of No thanks, Uncle Sam! (1999) in which he writes that, in these times, "it is appropriate to be downright anti-American."

Toward the middle of the demonstration, "a young man emptied a bottle of ketchup on my face and clothes and ran off," said Mr. Mamere. "Ten or so youths of 16 to 18, very violent, then came up to me and started hitting me."

Mamère had to leave early.

• Socialist parliamentarian Jean-Christophe Cambadélis writes in an essay in to-day's Le Figaro that the left is derelict in its duty to combat anti-Semitism.
It is not a mindless and insignificant part of France that is behind these acts. It is the lethal hatred of the Jew. So why has the left remained with its rifle by its feet? Because it does not want to react, so much is it overtaken by the desire to explain [this phenomenon]. But at this moment, an explanation is a pardon. [...] Isn't it a sophisticated form of modern anti-Semitism to view each Jew as a guardian of the Israeli government? Racism consists in always reducing an individual to his racial origins, in burdening him with a biological identity.

In light of our cause, putting a change in Israeli policy before our indignation, our upset and our rage is intolerable. It is unacceptable given the evil coming over our country. It is here, in France, in our schools, in our suburban areas, that Anti-Semitism is arising.
• A poll has found the three men most favored for president in 2007: Finance minster Nicolas Sarkozy (54%), doctor and consultant Bernard Kouchner (53%) and former prime minister Lionel Jospin (47%).

• French trade minister François Loos has announced that France will be seeking more business in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. According to Loos, French megabank BNP Paribas will open offices in KSA. The Accor group will begin construction of Sofitel hotels and France's National Railway corporation intends to finalize plans for railway lines in the Kingdom soon.

French investments in KSA are greater than $1.2 billion, making France the third largest investor in the kingdom. Along with Royal Dutch/Shell, French oil conglomerate Total has signed a deal — which the AFP calls "landmark" — for gas exploration in Rub al-Khali (the "empty quarter") in the south.

The fact that a wave of anti-Western terrorist attacks has killed more than 65 people in KSA leaves Loos undeterred. "There was a horrible attack in Madrid. I didn't hear that French companies stopped going there," he said. One wonders if the same holds for Israeli tourism.

Loos arrived on Thursday with representatives from 30 French firms and will soon depart for Qatar. The trade minister claims France is seeking a free trade agreement with the entire Gulf Cooperation Council as soon as possible — perhaps bringing French foreign policy into direct opposition to American desings (cf. Bush's Greater Middle East plan) yet again.

When asked why France didn't have the same security concerns that drove the US and UK governments to advise their citizens against travel to Saudi Arabia, Loos put his smarmiest face on. "It may be that the Americans feel they are in a different political situation than us [sic]," he said.

Tee hee. (not).

• Switzerland's Federal Commission Against Racism commissioned a study by the University of Zurich into media bias. According to SwissInfo, the study found that the Swiss media give a positive image of Jews but not necessarily of Muslims. Who knew?

• A month before the the D-Day celebrations, a book entitled Accursed Children has come out about the illegitimate children of German soldiers abandoned during the war. The BBC quotes a passage
"Which one of you knows the difference between a swallow and a Boche?" the mayor asked.

"I'll tell you. When the swallow makes its babies here in France, it takes them with it when it leaves. But the Boche - he leaves his behind."

Rouxel was, not surprisingly, mortified. He was the baby the Boche had left behind.

"After that, I wept and wept," he says today. "I was so ashamed that I ran and hid under a bridge for the whole night. I even thought of doing away with myself."

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