You can see "In the French Papers" live on France 24 from Monday to Friday at 7.10am, Paris time.
Unedited television script
With the G20 kicking off today, Sarkozy’s stature on the international stage is under the spotlight in the business paper La Tribune. “From De Gaulle the tall to Nicolas the small,” French Presidents seem to think that France has an “international calling”. This irritates and amuses many but no one can deny that Sarkozy punches above his weight on the international stage.
Central to his stature is the increased importance of the nation state in the plethora of conferences we’ve seen recently – on climate change and international financial regulation in particular. Here, heads of state take a leading role to the detriment of international organizations and Sarkozy has used this to his advantage.
An extraordinary article appears in today’s Le Monde revealing the extent to which racism is still a major problem in French society. Mustapha Kessous is a thirty year old journalist at Le Monde. He is of Arabic orgin as his first name clearly implies, yet for years now he does not identify himself as Mustapha over the phone. He simply calls himself “Mr. Kessous”. The response is invariably more positive.
Kessous lists an astonishing number of examples that demonstrate how he is treated differently because of his origins.
In 2008 he went to interview Brice Hortefeux and when the then Immigration Minister came to greet him outside his office, he jokingly said, “Do you have your residency papers?” Hortefeux has recently been criticized been dragged over the coals by the media for a very similar comment made to a young Arabic-French man which was caught on camera.
During the Tour de France, Kessous was sent with another white journalist from Le Monde to cover the event. He was confused by organizers of the Tour for being the driver for his colleague.
Kessous also recounts trying to rent an apartment in Paris and how giving his first name would often get a negative response – “Oh the apartment has already been rented!” In the end he brought a friend with him, a blonde woman who he presented as his girlfriend who was going to live with him – this seemed to reassure landlords…
In 2004 when covering a murder story for Le Monde where the victim was killed by a Moroccan man, a family member stared at Kessous and said, “I don’t like Arabs”. Later, at the hospital where the suspect was thought to have escaped from, Kessous was asked for his press card by the hospital director who didn’t believe that he was a journalist
Most shockingly, on his way out, Kessous was arrested by the police who though they had found…the murderer.
While covering court cases for Le Monde, Kessous was often asked by court officials if he himself was the suspect or defendant in the given trial.
Kessous concludes the long list of anecodes with one that happened just a few days before this article went to the press. He was parking his scooter on front of Le Monde’s offices when he was stopped by the police. When he informed them that he was a journalist working for the paper, they did not believe him and asked to see his press card. The article is deeply shocking and a damning indictment of race relations in contemporary France.
George Malbrunot - a reporter held hostage in Iraq for a period – writes a damning article in today’sLe Figaro about the election of UNESCO’s new Director General. Two countries changed their vote at the last minute, which saw Egypt’s candidate lose the vote to the Bulgarian diplomat, Irina Bokova.
The Egyptian Culture Minister, Farouk Honsi, was accused by many of anti-Semiticism in an unfair slur campaign according to Malbrunot. Hosni would have been the first Arab to head up the organization and this would have sent a strong message to the Arabic world, Malbrunot laments. African and Arabic leaders are anxious to find out the identity of the two countries that changed their vote at the last minute.
Finally, the weekly magazine Le Point has an exclusive interview with former French President, Valery Giscard d’Estaing. “VGE” has finally spilt the beans regarding the truthfulness of his novel ‘The Princess and the President’ which suggested he may have had a love affair with Princess Diana… However, it is after all just a work of fiction.
Apparently the idea for the book came to him after a conversation he had with Princess Diana in 1994 about the love affairs of heads of state. She suggested he write a book on the topic.
“She was much more beautiful than you could have imagined…with an intense physical presence, very beautiful skin and sporty allure,” he said of the late Princess.