Hiding the identity of alleged teen criminals is hardly an abnormal way to proceed in France, since protecting the identity of minors is required by French law, and the decision to use the name "Vladimir" for the 16-year-old who strangled a 13-year-old might sound logical at first since the high school student was indeed born in Russia.
But that does not take into account the fact that the region of the Russian Federation that "Vladimir's" family hails from was not the Slavic part but the Chechnya republic, meaning of course that the presumed killer and all of his family are Muslim.
"Vladimir? Why not Bjorn Borg?" asked one witty reader, tongue-in-cheek.
Giving the alleged killer a (fake) Muslim name — Mohammed, Abdullah, Ali, Samir, Suleiman (since his real first name does start with the letter S) etc — instead of "Vladimir" would thus have made more sense, say the readers in protest of what they perceive as political correctness — "transforming a Muslim connotation into an Orthodox Slav" — especially since "the great persecutor of Chechens is a certain Vladimir (Putin)…"
"Manipulations dignes des pires heures soviétoïdes !", accuse Paul Pottel, de Reims. "Manière insidieuse de désinformer", selon Jean-Christophe Antoine (Paris). "Désinformation qui vise bêtement à protéger les musulmans tchétchènes, totalement contre-productive, et injuste vis-à-vis des Russes", estime Claude Courouve.Reflecting the extent of the protest, "Vladimir" was changed in the online version of the article to the teen's (real) first-name initial, "S." But needless to say, ombudsmen in the mainstream media are rarely the neutral arbiters they pretend to be, and so, while denying any evil intent, Pascal Galinier goes on to call the letters he has received as "abusive" and "sometimes delirious", ridiculing the people who would dare put into question Le Monde's entirely innocent choices…