Category: France

“Emergency” Measures May Be Written Into The French Constitution

The Intercept, By Martin Untersinger, December 12

JUST HOURS INTO A TERRORIST ATTACK that started on the evening of Nov. 13, and would eventually claim 130 lives, François Hollande announced that France was reestablishing border controls, and used a 1955 law to proclaim a state of emergency.

This 60-year-old law gives French law enforcement wide and sweeping powers, freeing them from much of the normal judicial oversight. The law gives prefects, the French government’s local representatives, the ability to place people under house arrest, based merely on the suspicion of the intelligence service that they pose a threat to national security. They can also order police raids targeting any place where they think information about terrorism may be found, without a warrant.

Initially intended to last 12 days, the state of emergency was extended on November 19 for an additional three months by both chambers of parliament. During the vote in the lower house, only six MPs voted against the extension.

In some instances, the concrete consequences of the state of emergency border on the Kafkaesque. There’s this man, who was challenging the requirement that he report frequently to a police station (one of the other features of the state of emergency law). Because his court hearing to challenge the requirement was late, he showed up 40 minutes past the time he was supposed to be at the police station. He was immediately detained. Then there’s this man, who was placed under house arrest in southwestern France because he was suspected of being a radical Muslim — except he is a devout Catholic. The police also raided a halal restaurant for no apparent reason.

Since last month’s attacks, there have been some 2,500 police raids, and nearly a thousand people have been arrested or detained. French local and national press are now full of reports of questionable police raids. So outrageous were some cases that the French Interior Ministry had to send a letter to all prefects reminding them to “abide by the law.”

Peaceful Paris climate gathering descends into clashes with police

Anti-capitalists take over climate protest to rail against ban on marches imposed after terror attacks on city.

The Guardian, By Karl Mathiesen, November 29

A day of celebration and hope in Paris disintegrated into rioting and clashes with police on Sunday, after anti-capitalists and anarchists hijacked a peaceful event organised by climate activists earlier in the day.

About 200 protesters, some wearing masks, fought with police on a street leading to la place de la République, which has become a gathering place for Parisians since the terror attacks on 13 November that killed 130 people. Witnesses said floral and other tributes were trampled in the melee.

About 100 protesters were arrested and the gathering was cleared by police using batons and teargas.

Earlier on Sunday, there had been a carnival atmosphere in the square before the climate summit due to begin on the city’s outskirts on Monday. Thousands of shoes, including a pair belonging to Pope Francis, had been symbolically laid in the square to represent a climate march that was cancelled by authorities after the terror attacks.

The Guardian Live Blog: Global climate march 2015: hundreds of thousands march around the world – as it happened

Paris attacks: State of emergency could restrict public demonstrations during Paris climate talks

ABC.au, By Peter Burton, November 17

What impact will the attacks have on the Paris Climate Change Conference scheduled to begin in 12 days?

While already complicated, the talks will now take place within a state of emergency that is threatening to limit public participation.

Events in Paris continue to unfold at a dizzying pace. But in the coming days we will learn a lot by paying attention to how parties use (and abuse) the language of freedom and liberty.

Twitter Has Censored Gory Images of the Paris Attacks

French authorities reportedly asked the company to block certain content.

Mother Jones, By Josh Harkinson, November 17

Over the past three days, Twitter has been preventing its users in France from viewing certain images and keywords related to the Paris attacks. The censorship, first reported today by the French newspaper Le Monde, applies to a keyword used by supporters of the Islamic State, tweets advocating terrorism, and, more controversially, graphic photographs taken inside the Bataclan after the terrorist attacks there left dozens dead.

On Sunday, France’s National Police used its Twitter account to ask social media users not to contribute to “the spread of photos of crime scenes,” out of “respect for victims and their families.” It encouraged Twitter users to send links to photos from the Bataclan massacre to PHAROS, a government website that compiles reports of illegal online activity.

On the same day, French law enforcement officials sent a request directly to Twitter, demanding the removal of certain tweets, according to Lumen, a Harvard University database of government takedown requests. The reasons the authorities gave for the request were a “serious attack on human dignity (images of cadavers)” and “secrecy of the investigation.”

[…]

“France has become nothing short of a nightmare when it comes to free speech,” says Jonathan Turley, a professor of public interest law at George Washington University. “The French government has aggressively rolled back free speech protections for years. I never thought I would see the day when France would become the leader in censorship and the criminalization of speech, however, it has become precisely that.”

France says tackle Syria to solve migrant crisis, promises strikes

CNN, By Mick Krever, September 9

France will soon launch air stikes in Syria, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday, saying the refugee crisis “cannot be solved just by receiving them.”

“At the moment there are millions of Syrians who are displaced. There are refugee camps — in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Turkey — receiving 4 to 5 million Syrians. And we’re not going to receive 4 to 5 million Syrians, so the problem has to be dealt with at source,” he said through an interpreter.

“These are very difficult subjects. And of course, in Syria, so long as we haven’t found a political solution; so long as we haven’t destroyed this terrorist group, Islamic State; so long as we haven’t got rid of Bashar Assad; we will not find a solution.”

France began flying reconnaissance missions over Syria this week, and Valls said he would appear before the country’s Parliament next Tuesday to announce “the objectives of France and that there will be strikes.”

CNN: U.S. to Russia: Backing al-Assad ‘is not a winning strategy’
New York Times: U.S. Begins Military Talks With Russia on Syria

FN founder Le Pen to create new far-right faction

France 24, September 6

French far-right firebrand Jean-Marie Le Pen announced Saturday his intention to create a new far-right faction, distinct from the National Front (FN) party he co-founded and was expelled from after feuding with its current leader, his daughter.

The 87-year-old made his statement in Marseille where the FN is holding a party conference this weekend with its president Marine Le Pen to focus on December’s regional elections.

But a few kilometres away in an up-scale restaurant, her father was meeting with around 300 supporters.

Jean-Marie Le Pen expressed his wish to start a movement dubbed the “Blue White and Red Rally”, aiming to unite those without FN party membership and still loyal to him.

“I propose that we join together, you will not be orphans, in the Blue, White and Red Rally… to take action in the same way as the National Front, without belonging to it,” he said.

France’s Hollande Proposes Creation of Euro-Zone Government

Bloomberg Business, By Angeline Benoit, July 19

French President Francois Hollande said that the 19 countries using the euro need their own government complete with a budget and parliament to cooperate better and overcome the Greek crisis.

“Circumstances are leading us to accelerate,” Hollande said in an opinion piece published by the Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. “What threatens us is not too much Europe, but a lack of it.”

While the euro zone has a common currency, fiscal and economic policies remain mostly in the hands of each member state. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi made a plea this week for deeper cooperation between the euro members after political squabbles over Greece almost led to a rupture in the single currency.

Countries in favor of more integration should move ahead, forming an “avant-garde,” Hollande said.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn acquitted of ‘aggravated pimping’

BBC, June 12

A French court has acquitted former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of procuring prostitutes for sex parties in France, Belgium and the US.

Mr Strauss-Kahn stood alongside 13 co-defendants, most of whom were also acquitted of “aggravated pimping”.

He has always denied knowing that some of the women who took part in orgies he attended were prostitutes.

Marine Le Pen, Leader of France’s National Front Party, Splits With Her Father, Its Founder

New York Times, By Suzanne Daley, April 8

Paris – Marine Le Pen, the head of France’s far-right National Front, has openly split with her father and the founder of her party, calling his recent comments, including those on German gas chambers, “political suicide” and an attempt to harm her.

In recent years, Ms. Le Pen, trying to clean up the image of her party as racist and anti-Semitic, has kept her distance from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, 86, and his more extreme statements, even as he continued as the party’s honorary chairman.

But Mr. Le Pen made headlines over the last week, after he once again claimed that the Nazi gas chambers were a “detail” of history; praised France’s collaborationist wartime leader, Marshal Philippe Pétain; and questioned whether France’s Spanish-born prime minister, Manuel Valls, was really loyal to France.

His outbursts appeared to be more than Ms. Le Pen and her entourage could put up with. In a statement on Wednesday, Ms. Le Pen said she had already told her father that she planned to block him from running in coming regional elections.

“Jean-Marie Le Pen seems to have descended into a strategy somewhere between scorched earth and political suicide,” she said. “His status as honorary president does not give him the right to hijack the National Front with vulgar provocations seemingly designed to damage me but which unfortunately hit the whole movement.”

She added that, with great sadness, she was calling a meeting of the party’s executive bureau with her father present “to find the best way of protecting the interests of the movement,” a statement that some experts took to mean that Mr. Le Pen may be expelled from the party altogether.

France is Europe’s ‘big problem’, warns Mario Monti

Gallic nation threatens to blow Europe’s Franco-German axis apart, warns former Italian prime minister.

The Telegraph, By Szu Ping Chan, March 21

France has become Europe’s “big problem”, according to the former prime minister of Italy, who warned that anti-Brussels sentiment and the rise of populist parties in the Gallic nation threatened to blow the bloc’s Franco-German axis apart.

Mario Monti – who was dubbed “Super Mario” for saving the country from collapse at the height of the eurozone debt crisis – said France’s “unease” with the single currency had already created tensions between Europe’s two largest economies.

“In the last few years we have seen France receding in terms of actual economic performance, in terms of complying with all the European rules, and above all in terms of its domestic public opinion – which is turning more and more against Europe,” he told The Telegraph.

Ukraine’s warring parties agree to February 15 ceasefire

France24, February 12

The warring parties in Ukraine agreed Thursday to a February 15 ceasefire and the withdrawal of heavy weapons from the front lines in a deal French President François Hollande called a “comprehensive political solution” after marathon talks in Minsk.

Speaking to reporters after almost 16 hours of talks between the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Putin said: “We have managed to agree on the main issues,” adding that a ceasefire would come into effect at midnight on February 15.

“The second point, which I believe to be extremely important, is the withdrawal of heavy weapons from today’s line of contact for Ukrainian troops and from the line stipulated in the September 19 Minsk agreements for Donbass rebels,” he said.

French President François Hollande called the deal a “comprehensive political solution” and said it provides “serious hope, even if all is not done”.

US, UK and France announce closures, evacuations of embassies in Yemen

Fox News, February 11

The State Department announced late Tuesday that the U.S. Embassy in Yemen had been closed and evacuated after much of the country was taken over by Shiite rebels last month.

Hours later, Britain and France followed suit and ordered their citizens to leave Yemen as soon as possible.

The U.S. embassy had already been operating with severely reduced staff for several weeks. State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said remaining diplomatic personnel had been relocated “due to the ongoing political instability and the uncertain security situation.”

Al Arabiya: France, Britain suspend embassy work in Yemen

France begins jailing people for ironic comments

Electronic Intifada, By Ali Abunimah, January 19

It may sound like an ironic joke, but it isn’t. Less than a week after the massive rallies in defense of “free expression,” following the murders of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, French authorities have jailed a youth for irony.

The arrest is part of a harsh crackdown on free speech in the country that has prompted criticism from national and international human rights organizations.

A 16-year-old high school student was taken into police custody on Thursday and indicted for “defending terrorism,” national broadcaster France 3 reports.

His alleged crime? He posted on Facebook a cartoon “representing a person holding the magazine Charlie Hebdo, being hit by bullets, and accompanied by an ‘ironic’ comment,” France 3 states.

Europe’s answer to France terror ‘attack on free speech’ is greater Internet censorship

After three days of terrorist attacks in the French capital, European leaders are pushing for stronger measures to crack down on online “extremist” content.

ZDNet, By Zack Whittaker, January 12

About half of Europe’s member states are pushing for greater online censorship powers in the wake of the terror attacks in France earlier this month.

In a joint statement, interior ministers from 11 European member states — including Germany, Poland, Spain, and the U.K. — expressed condemnation of the attacks, while stressing further cooperation between their law enforcement and intelligence agencies.

Members of the European Union, along with a delegation from the U.S. government — including outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder — adopted, among other sentiments, a resolution to create a partnership of major Internet providers to report and remove material associated with extremism.

“We are concerned at the increasingly frequent use of the Internet to fuel hatred and violence and signal our determination to ensure that the Internet is not abused to this end, while safeguarding that it remains, in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” the statement said.

The statement also said the Internet was a focal point in the “fight against radicalization,” and there was a need to strengthen resources across the region, including greater border surveillance.

WSJ Digits blog: France Pushes for Scrubbing Internet of Terrorism-Related Content

Anchor Leaves CNN After Paris Tweets


aletejahtv

NYT – The veteran CNN anchor Jim Clancy has left the network after a series of Twitter messages he wrote about the terrorist attack on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

In the tweets, which were sent on the day of the attack, Mr. Clancy wrote about the cartoons the paper had published depicting the Prophet Muhammad, but he then began criticizing supporters of Israel and sparring with other Twitter users. Mr. Clancy’s Twitter account has since been deleted, but the tweets were published on several websites, including Gawker, Twitchy and Mediaite.