In the press

Smelly durian strikes again! Fruit causes evacuation of German post office


IN THE PAPERS - Wednesday, June 24: With controversial French doctor Didier Raoult set for a hearing with lawmakers, Aujourd'hui en France writes that he maintains his cult following despite the questionable effectiveness of hydroxychloroquine. As French society grapples with the colonial legacy of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Libération examines the generational divide in France when it comes to the fight against racism. Plus, the Guardian looks at the influence of the tobacco industry on Jordan's soaring smoking rates and a smelly fruit leads to the evacuation of a Bavarian post office!


French lawmakers are due to hold a hearing with the country's most controversial doctor, Didier Raoult, the man who gained international attention as the champion of hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for the coronavirus. He's sort of a cult figure here in France and at the peak of the outbreak people from all over the country were lining up outside of his medical centre in Marseille. Raoult will be answering questions from lawmakers as part of a broader investigation into France's handling of the coronavirus outbreak. According to Aujourd’hui en France, the country's passion for him continues despite the ongoing debate over whether hydroxychloroquine is effective or even harmful. The paper takes an overall positive position: "Love him or hate him, let's at least recognize that he brightened up our long weeks of confinement."

Let's stay in France for another controversial topic – racism. A high school has been renamed for American civil rights icon Rosa Parks. This high school had been named after Jean-Baptiste Colbert – the man known for writing the rules governing slavery in France's colonies. Protests have put him back in the spotlight and a statue of him in front of the National Assembly was actually graffitied overnight on Tuesday. Local officials in France's east, where this high school was renamed, are defending their decision from criticism coming from the far-right. They argue that they made it before these mass global protests began and that it was not a decision made in the heat of emotion, or a political decision.

The fact that the argument needs to be made, though, says a lot about the pushback this current reckoning is getting in France, where there's a divide between an older and a younger generation when it comes to the fight against racism. Libération looks at that tension, and the evolution from the universalist approach of the 1980s to the decolonial approach embodied by Assa Traoré.

We move away from France to the country with the highest rate of tobacco consumption in the world. That title was long held by Indonesia, but according to the Guardian, the kingdom of Jordan now has the highest smoking rates in the world. A study done in 2019 found that one in eight men in Jordan are smokers. That's not the real scandal though – the Guardian reports that these high smoking rates are linked to the influence of tobacco companies on government policy. For example, representatives from big tobacco actually had a seat at the table as the government was discussing standards for things like nicotine content and health warnings. It's not just the case in Jordan, but also in many lower- and middle-income countries around the world.

We're staying with the Guardian for this last story: a post office in Germany that had to be evacuated over a fruit! Not just any fruit – the durian fruit, which has a smell so strong it is banned on public transportation in many places in Asia. The post office was evacuated, a dozen postal workers had to be treated for nausea and some were even taken to hospital. This was all caused by a package containing four of the fruits that someone was sending to a friend. The friend has reportedly received the package, so at least it wasn't for nothing. It's not the first time durian fruits have wreaked havoc and we here at FRANCE 24 would love to try one to see what all the fuss is about. Feel free to send us one in the post.

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