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Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-03-09

A proud day for French President Nicolas Sarkozy after one of his female ministers won a karate championship and another busted a café where the owner let his customers smoke inside: good PR for the government on International Women’s Day.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s women have shown they pack a punch on International Women’s Day - one with high kicks and karate chops, the other by demonstrating a tough zero-tolerance approach to France’s strict anti-smoking laws. 
 
Chantal Jouanno, 40-year-old secretary of state for the environment, won the French “tata” karate championships with her two (female) team mates on Saturday.
 
Although “tata” is a non-contact version of the sport, her achievement after a 13-year break from the ring nevertheless dominated French weekend headlines.
 
On the same day, Jouanno’s colleague Nadine Morano, secretary of state for families, ordered police officers to enter a bar where she had spotted the owner and several punters puffing on cigarettes.
 
Enforcer
 
Local daily L’Est République reported that when she told the owner of the Neuves-Maison establishment to make his clients stub out their cigarettes, she was told: “If I played by the rules, I would long ago have been forced to shut up shop.”
 
Undaunted, Morano went straight to the local police station - on the opposite side of the road - and ordered gendarmes to go over and enforce the ban.
 
“I am a minister of the republic,” she told L’Est République. “If I went into a bar [where people are smoking] and did nothing, I would be condoning this illegal activity.”
 
The owner risks a fine of 135 euros, while each of the smokers will have to cough up 68 euros.
 
Both women are at the top of the ruling UMP party’s lists in regional elections that play out over the next two weekends; Morano in the north-eastern region of Lorraine and Jouanno in Paris.
 
And, coming the weekend before International Women’s Day, these highly publicised displays of the tough girl image can only be good publicity for Sarkozy’s party. 

Date created : 2010-03-08

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