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France

Latest sex crime claims leave French press sceptical

©

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2011-06-02

A significant portion of the French press has bristled at recent accusations made by former Education Minister Luc Ferry that another French politician molested young boys in Morocco.

After the Dominique Strauss-Kahn attempted rape case and the charges of sexual harassment levelled at politician Georges Tron, yet another homegrown sex-and-politics scandal is splashed across front pages in France.

Earlier in the week, philosopher and former centre-right Education Minister Luc Ferry said on TV that he had been informed by senior French officials that a fellow former minister (whom he did not name) had once been caught in an “orgy with little boys” in Marrakech. But if the French press has in recent weeks been shining a light on accounts of male chauvinism in France’s political class, several journalists have bristled at the latest accusations, which they say are unfounded and amount to “tarnishing the Republic’s image”.

A stringent French law protecting an individual’s right to privacy has prevented the French press from speculating about which politician Ferry may have been alluding to. But weekly magazine L’Express reported that former Culture Minister Jack Lang was considering filing a lawsuit for slander. The article mentions that Lang’s sexuality has long been the subject of rumours (that were furthermore examined in a 2005 profile of Lang published in the magazine).

'Democracy left shaking'

Meanwhile, it was Ferry whom left-wing daily Libération put in the hotseat, publishing his photo on the newspaper’s front page Thursday and topping it with a scathing headline: “Dirty Ferry”. The lead article in the paper qualified Ferry’s accusations as “noise, buzz, nothingness”, while the editorial characterised him as a “brash brat” whose allegations were “vague and incomprehensible”.

Regional newspapers around France were just as biting. A daily from the east, l’Est Républicain, asserted that even if the allegations turned out to be true, “it wasn’t in front of a camera that [Ferry] should have thrown his revelations on the table”. If the allegations are false, the editorial posits, Ferry perhaps “only wanted to have people talking about him”.

A southwestern paper, Dépêche du Midi, also came down hard on Ferry, labelling the philosopher a “bogus Voltaire” and a “vulgar snitch”. The publication denounced what it termed a larger “DSK syndrome” that has “possessed the political class and the media with a frenzy that clouds even the most reasonable spirits”.

Le Journal de la Haute-Marne, a newspaper from north-eastern France, offered a broader, somewhat more mournful take on the matter, suggesting that the latest talk of a sex crime in the French political world posed a danger for French society. “The air is becoming unbreatheable….and it is democracy that is left shaking”, the editorial read.
 

Date created : 2011-06-02

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