French papers report on the New Year's Day attack in Alexandria on the city's Coptic Christians and strike pessimistic and optimistic notes for the French as 2011 gets underway. That’s the focus of the French Press Review for Monday, 3rd January 2011.
Aujourd’hui-en-France/Le Parisien leads with the headline “How the world sees the future”. The paper reports on a BVA-GALLUP survey carried out among 64 thousand people in 53 countries which places the French at the top of the league table for pessimism. Almost two out of three French people - 61 per cent - believe 2011 will bring economic difficulties, one in three feel their situation will worsen. One of the paper’s articles is headlined “We’re the world champions for pessimism”. It quotes a psychiatrist Serge Hefez saying the French feel that the state, which usually protects people, has abandoned them.
Libération has a graphic on its front page of the people it feels will mark 2011. It has chosen tennis star Rafael Nadal, Steven Spielberg for his film version of Tintin, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Martine Aubry in French politics, and former president Jacques Chirac who will be in court in March over a party financing scandal.
Libération also reports on the New Year’s Day attack on Coptic Christians in Alexandria in Egypt. It says the assault reflects a rise in tension between Christians and Muslims throughout the Middle East. An editorial by Vincent Giret says that “more than indignation is needed to dam the hate”. He argues that Alexandria in the past “dreamt of the coexistence of religions” and asks whether Muslims are willing to enter into dialogue with Christians
France’s Catholic Daily La Croix also leads on the Alexandria attack with a photo of a cross covered in a blood stained cloth at the al-Qiddissine church. It says that Arab governments should be responsible for protecting their Christian populations and should defend pluralism in society.
Le Figaro headlines: “The Great Distress of Egypt’s Christians”. It says the Coptic community is feeling fear and anger. An editorial by Yves Thréard says they are the victim of religious fanaticism. In a piece called “Powerlessness and Cowardice”, he argues that if the same attack had been carried out against Muslims in the West, “the Muslim world would rise up and declare a global war”.
Still with Le Figaro, there’s a message by the paper’s owner, the industrialist Serge Dassault. It’s rare for him to make a statement in his paper. His concerns for 2011 are mainly economic ones. He says the government’s priority should be to balance France’s budget and advises a clampdown on wildcat strikes.
Meanwhile, one of France’s regional papers “Ouest France” strikes an optimistic tone with an editorial noting that although the planet now has seven billion people there is less poverty and fewer wars. The French historian André Larané says the number of deaths in wars and terrorism over the last decade was less than a million – a significant decrease on the average of two million per decade in the second half of the 20th century.