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France: President François Hollande Selflessly Decides Not to Face Humiliation.

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hollande-sen-va550

Bye-Bye Hollande.

French President François Hollande said on Thursday he would not seek re-election next year, bowing to historically low approval ratings after a troubled term in power.

Reports France 24

The withdrawal means the 62-year-old Socialist leader is the first president of France‘s fifth republic, founded in 1958, to step aside after only one term.

“I have decided that I will not be a candidate,” a stony-faced Hollande said in a solemn televised statement from the Élysée Palace in Paris during which he defended his record.

He conceded that he was unable to unite his deeply divided Socialist Party behind his candidacy ahead of the presidential election in April and May next year.

“In the months to come, my only duty will be to continue to lead my country,” he said.

Hollande’s approval ratings have hit rock bottom after a term in office marked by U-turns on major policies, terror attacks, high unemployment and embarrassing revelations about his private life.

He is the most unpopular president in French polling history, a fact he tacitly acknowledged in his speech on Thursday.

“I am aware today of the risk that going down a route that would not gather sufficient support would entail, so I have decided not to be a candidate in the presidential election,” he said.

A new poll on Wednesday predicted he would win just seven percent of votes in the first round of next year’s election in April – strengthening Socialist critics who view him as a lame duck.

This decision leaves the forthcoming ‘Primary’ of the Parti Socialiste (PS) wide open.

This will take place on the 22nd and 29th of January 2017 (Primaire citoyenne de 2017).

There is speculation as to whether Manuel Valls, the present Prime Minister, described as a “social liberal” (in French terms, pro-market), marked by a dose of ‘Blue Labour’ conservative moral and authoritarianism, will stand. Others consider the Martine Aubry, the Mayor of Lille and a bearer of the European social democratic current, who has  been critical of Hollande, may present herself.

This morning on France-Inter on of the candidates from the left of the Socialist Party, Arnaud Montebourg gave his reactions.

Saluting Hollande’s decision he gave some no doubt well-meant advice to Valls: he cannot remain as Prime Minister while entering into the Party’s contest for a Presidential candidate.

Cela me paraît difficile que Manuel Valls puisse rester à Matignon (…) Je ne pense pas que cela laisse de la place à une campagne des primaires.

Faced with a parting shot by Hollande, warning of the dangers of “protectionism”, Montebourg offered an intresting – that is to say, contorted- defence of his project for ‘social protection’, which may, possibly, include economic…protectionism.

As in this:

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As Montenbourg was tailing, even overtaking Hollande, in the polls, it’s worth nothing that his programme principles also include suppoort for medium to small enterprises, anti-austerity, en end to “social dumping” , migrant workers under terms of conditions set in their countries rather than by France, activity by a ‘strong state’ such as  nationalisations (Banking sector), and … obligatory young people’s military or civic service for 6 months. (Quelles sont les propositions d’Arnaud Montebourg ?)

The other candidates, for the moment include (le Monde).

  • Marie-Noëlle Lienemann – Socialist senator left ‘frondeur’ (those who have criticised Hollande’s legislative projects and Presidency. Standing for ‘social justice, raising the minimum wage and a better deal for young people. Wishes to carry the message to the left as a whole, including the greens, and the left of the left.
  • Benoît Hamon – Former education Minister, critic of Hollande, stands for retaining the 35 hours week, and introducing a universal basic income. Nowhere in the polls.
  • Gérard Filoche  – former member of the Ligue communiste révolutionnaire . Important figure in the campaign against the recent labour ‘reforms’.  Good bloke. Outsider. (1)
  • Manuel Valls still not officially declared candidate. Hard man of the Parti Socialiste right. Likes Tony Blair – enough said.

Others:  Les candidats des partis associés.

  • Jean-Luc Bennahmias (Front démocrate) Who?
  • François de Rugy (Écologistes !) Who?
  • Pierre Larrouturou (Nouvelle Donne). Who? Very odd group Nouvelle Donne….

The wider issue of who will be the left’s candidate in next year’s Presidential election is considered here: Après le retrait de Hollande, qui est candidat à gauche ?  Laure Equy et Sylvain Mouillard.

Hopefuls include: Emmanuel Macron (centre), Sylvia Pinel (of the small Parti radical de gauche), Nathalie Arthaud (Lutte Ouvrière) Philippe Poutou (Nouveau parti anticaptialiste),  Yannick Jadot (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts (EE-LV).

There is also Jean-Luc Mélenchon under the banner of his rally,  La France Insoumise  whose politics  we have presented often enough here to make further comment unnecessary for the moment.

Mélenchon stands at  around 15 % in the polls which makes him a front-runner for winning the same score as the French Communist Georges Marchais in 1981.

Update.

(1) Filoche has just launched an appeal for the left to develop a common left socialist strategy amongst the Socialists, the 4 left candidates in the primary and for meetings with Jadot and Mélenchon (une stratégie commune de la gauche socialiste, un « pack des quatre » dès maintenant, ensuite nous rencontrerons Yannick Jadot et Jean luc Mélenchon).

Hollande obligé de renoncer – Unité de toute la gauche socialiste et non socialiste avec les écologistes pour battre Fillon-Le Pen.

Fillon, Le Pen: Right wing Plague or Right-wing Cholera.

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French Far-Right Hesitates between Marine le Pen and François Fillon.

France 24 reports,

By overwhelmingly backing former prime minister François Fillon, voters in the primary held by France’s centre-right on Sunday opted for an economically liberal, socially conservative candidate whose vision for France leaves little ambiguity.

Any hope rival primary candidate Alain Juppé had of springing a surprise in the Les Républicains party run-off vote failed to come to fruition, with Fillon taking some 66.5 percent of the vote. If Fillon’s strong performance in the first round of voting could be in part attributed to voters merely wanting to shut out Nicolas Sarkozy, his landslide victory over Juppé on Sunday left little room for doubt: Fillon’s firmly right-wing platform had won the firm backing of the conservative electorate.

The “fight between one project and another”, as the more moderate, centrist Juppé had called his showdown with Fillon, had been decided. Despite attacks by Juppé between the two rounds of voting that had depicted him as both “ultra conservative” and “ultra liberal” economically, Fillon had clearly prevailed.

The Guardian columnist    comments,

The Front National leader has reason to fear the Republican candidate, whose views overlap with some of her key ideas.

..

The Front National has reason to fear Fillon. His traditionalist and socially conservative line on family values and “the Christian roots of France”, his emphasis on French national identity, “sovereignty” and “patriotism”, his hard line on immigration and Islam as well as a pro-Putin foreign agenda against “American imperialism” all overlap with some of Le Pen’s key ideas.

This could potentially see Fillon steal some of Le Pen’s most socially conservative voters, particularly rightwing elderly people, who always have a big turnout to vote but remain sceptical about the Front National.

“Fillon presents us with a strategy problem, he’s the most dangerous [candidate] for the Front National,” Marion Maréchal Le Pen, the Catholic and socially conservative Front National MP and niece of Marine Le Pen, told journalists this week.

..

Despite Fillon’s hardline rightwing stances, he is not a populist. “He’s closer to [the former British prime minister] David Cameron than [the Ukip leader] Nigel Farage,” said Jean-Yves Camus, an expert on the French far right.

This leaves Le Pen a wide margin in which to go for Fillon’s jugular as she fights a campaign centred on “the people versus the elite”. The Front National has already begun attacking Fillon as a snobbish, political has-been. It argues thatFillon, as Nicolas Sarkozy’s prime minister, was responsible for the failures of the Sarkozy era and cares more about the rich, globalised elite than the working class who have faced decades of mass unemployment.

The battle will largely focus on economic policy. Fillon has promised a “radical shock” for France with free-market reform, major cuts to public sector jobs and reducing public spending. Le Pen claims to represent the “forgotten” French underclass and has an economic line that is essentially leftwing: she is anti-globalisation and favours protectionism and state intervention. Le Pen’s campaign director, David Rachline, has called Fillon’s programme “economically insane” for wanting to slash 500,000 public sector jobs.

Le Pen’s advisers believe Fillon will struggle to appeal to the lower middle class and working class voters who are afraid of losing their jobs. The Front National has slammed Fillon as a symbol of lawless, ultra-free market, globalised capitalism. Fillon, in return, says Le Pen’s economic project is simply “a cut and paste of the extreme left”.

Some on the French far-right are already moving towards backing Fillon (Le conservatisme affiché de François Fillon séduit à l’extrême droite).

Has the French left any chance?

The Socialists continue to hover between indecision and hesitancy.

This weekend the French Communist Party (PCF)  voted to back Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s Presidential bid (Finalement, les communistes soutiennent… Mélenchon. Libération). They supported his candidacy under the banner of la France insoumise  by a slim, at 53,6% for, majority. It is obvious that there was little chance of a the Communists being able to launch their own Presidential challenge. The Party announced its intention of launching their own campaign in support his proposals against austerity. They do not intend to give him ‘carte blanche’ (un blanc-seing).

This follows the decision of the other component of the (now effectively  defunct) Front de gauche, Ensemble, to back Mélenchon, Communiqué du Collectif National d’Ensemble des 19 et 20 novembre 2016)

 That Mélenchon  looks potentially capable of beating a Socialist candidate into fourth place no doubt counts in his favour – although no poll gives him a chance of getting to the run-off.

The reasons for the PCF’s reservations – shared no doubt by many in Ensemble, are not hard to find. Beginning with the personality of the Man of Destiny.

We nevertheless cite a major source of difference which, given the importance of the issue of immigration in the coming contest,  will no doubt grow in importance

 has noted (Guardian),

Despite a steady increase in Euroscepticism in France, the underlying principle of free movement of people across the EU remains broadly undisputed. Apart from in one telling area. There is growing evidence of opposition towards EU migrants and the notion of freedom in what has become known as “social dumping”. This relates to “posted workers”, employees sent by their employer to carry out a service in another EU member state on a temporary basis. Those EU workers do not integrate in the labour market in which they work.

 Hence, “social dumping”, where foreign service providers undercut local service providers because their labour standards are lower (in terms of pay and social protection). Interestingly, the most staggering attack against posted workers has come not from the far right, as one would expect, but from the radical left.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon, an MEP, a presidential candidate in 2012 and running again in 2017, has singled out posted workers in a speech at the European parliament last July. He declared that “posted workers took the bread out of French workers’ mouths”. Part of the French left was stunned by words that could have easily been uttered by Marine Le Pen.

Meanwhile Jean-Luc Mélenchon  has insulted yet another section of the left. He has attacked the journalist and Latin American specialist  Paulo Paranagua with a series of allegations about his political past in Argentina.  The journalist, the Presidential hopeful  raved, had been objectively Muse of the CIA – no doubt the reason he was captured and tortured for his association with armed resistance to  the 1970s military regimes of the time. Paranagua was only released from an Argentinian gaol and deported to France after an international campaign in his defence.

A protest at these slanders has been launched: “Nous n’acceptons pas de voir notre passé commun insulté par J.L. Mélenchon“. Signatures  include Alain Krivine..

Update, Post Primary Opinion Poll:

None of the left gets more than 13% in opinion polls, Fillon, 26% Marine Le Pen (24%) Emmanuel Macron – Centre (14%) et Jean-Luc Mélenchon (13%), t François Hollande9%, François Bayrou, Centre, à 6%. Ecologists Yannick Jadot and Nicolas Dupont-Aignan 3% Far-left Nathalie Arthaud et Philippe Poutou 1% – poll today l’Express.

Bye Bye Sarkozy, as Fillon Strikes a Vein.

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Pollsters Deny Not Having Foreseen Fillon’s Win. 

Sarkozy’s comeback in tatters as he’s knocked out of French presidential primary

Reports France 24.

Nicolas Sarkozy, whose dream of a triumphant return to the French presidency was destroyed at the first hurdle Sunday, failed to shake off a reputation as one of the country’s most divisive figures.

With tough talk on immigration, security and national identity, the 61-year-old tried to woo voters tempted by the far-right National Front with an unabashedly populist campaign.

But the man known universally in France as “Sarko” was humiliated in the rightwing’s first ever primary, finishing third behind the man who served as his prime minister, Francois Fillon, and another ex-premier, Alain Juppe.

 “I have no bitterness, I have no sadness, and I wish the best for my country,” Sarkozy said in a dignified concession speech.

Sarkozy
tried to bury the “bling-bling” image of his 2007-12 presidency by casting himself as a defender of the “down-and-outs against the elites”.

Spare a minute, or an hour, for celebration as we pop open the Leffe.

The great man’s supporters took his defeat calmly. At his HQ they shouted,  “it’s the fault of the left” (recycling the claim that left-wingers joined in the primary to vote against their candidate)  and added, “you journalists are traitors to France”. (Libération. Au QG de Sarkozy: c’est la gauche qui est «coupable»).

Sarkozy is now, more than ever, embroiled in scandal as these cases remain to haunt him.

A host of legal troubles failed to deter Sarkozy’s bid to take care of what he considered unfinished business.

He became the first former head of state to be taken into custody for questioning when he was charged with corruption, influence peddling and violation of legal secrecy in July 2014.

In what is potentially the most damaging case, he is accused of conspiring with his lawyer to give a magistrate a lucrative job in exchange for inside information on a different corruption probe against him, in conversations on a secret phone registered under an assumed name.

Or, (Wikipedia),

5 July 2010, following its investigations on the Bettencourt affair, online newspaper Mediapart ran an article in which Claire Thibout, a former accountant of billionairess Liliane Bettencourt, accused Sarkozy and Eric Woerth of receiving illegal campaign donations in 2007, in cash.[148][149]

On 1 July 2014 Sarkozy was detained for questioning by police over claims he had promised a prestigious role in Monaco to a high-ranking judge, Gilbert Azibert, in exchange for information about the investigation into alleged illegal campaign funding. Mr Azibert, one of the most senior judges at the Court of Appeal, was called in for questioning on 30 June 2014.[150] It is believed to be the first time a former French president has been held in police custody, although his predecessor, Jacques Chirac, was found guilty of embezzlement and breach of trust while he was mayor of Paris and given a suspended prison sentence in 2011.[151] After 15 hours in police custody, Sarkozy was put under official investigation for “active corruption”, “misuse of influence” and “obtained through a breach of professional secrecy” on 2 July 2014.[152] Mr Azibert and Sarkozy’s lawyer, Thierry Herzog, are also now under official investigation. The two accusations carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison.[153] The developments are seen as a blow to Sarkozy’s attempts to challenge for the presidency in 2017.[154][155]

On 16 February 2016, Sarkozy was indicted on “illegal financing of political campaign” charges related to overspending in his 2012 presidential campaign and retained as witness in connection with the Bygmalion scandal.[156][157][158][159]

In April 2016, Arnaud Claude, former law partner of Sarkozy, has been named in the Panama Papers.

A large shelf of books exists on this subject.

But they look now like the concern of specialists. Or gloaters…..

Now what of the actual result?

These are the figures at the moment (final result later today) ; François Fillon 44,1%, Alain Juppé,  28,6% et Nicolas Sarkozy  20,6%.

Former PM – under Sarkozy’s Presidency, with whom he did not enjoy an always easy rapport  – (2007 – 2012) Fillon emerged as a front-runner only in the last few days. It was initially far from a landslide lead. (1)

Now he has swept his opponents aside.

French papers talk of his organised support amongst Catholic right-wingers (catholiques conservateurs, including the overtly anti=-gay, Sens commun, ): he is ‘pro-family’ and (….)opposed to the right of gay couples to adopt children and to have access to artificial procreation  (Loi Taubira) and is strongly in favour of opening new ‘private’, that is, Catholic and religious, schools. Fillion is tough on some aspects of immigration, without singling out (in contrast to Sarkozy) any particularly group. On Islam He stands for a big cut in the number of public employees and state spending, as well as measures to increase the working week (continuing his efforts as PM), and ‘free’ up labour laws.

As a conservative (values) and a liberal (economy) Fillon appeals to the widest possible constituency of the right. (le Monde) He is said to have appeared au dessus de la mêlée. Crudely he lacks the hysteria of Sarkozy’s campaign, which became known for the former President’s remarks against not only ‘elites’ but Muslims.

Fillon is also said to enjoy good relations with Russia’s President Putin….( François Fillon et son ami Poutine).

What of the former favourite?

Alain Juppé (71 years old), has a past.

In November/December 1995, as Prime Minister his plan for Welfare State reform caused the biggest social conflict since May 68 and, under duress, abandoned it. He became the most unpopular Prime Minister of the Fifth Republic. ” Juppé  has his own – conviction – for corruption, “n 2004, Alain Juppé was tried for the felony of abuse of public funds, when he was head of the RPR and the RPR illegally used personnel provided by the City of Paris for running its operations. He was convicted and sentenced to an 18-month suspended jail sentence, the deprivation of civic rights for five years, and the deprivation of the right to run for political office for 10 years. He appealed the decision, whereupon his disqualification from holding elected office was reduced to one year and the suspended sentence cut to 14 months.

That said, his slogan of  l’identité heureuse, (taken as a contrast to France’s answer to Melanie Phillip’s, Alain Finkielkraut’s rant, L’identité malheureuse, 2013 – it is truly dire.)  was a welcome stand in favour of tolerance towards religious and ethnic minorities. This morning Juppé’s supporters were claiming that there had been a sustained social media campaign against him alleging that he has close links with ‘Islamists.’

Juppé still  intends to go to the second round on the 27th of November.

Meanwhile the French left still looks as if it is going nowhere.

 

(1) L’ultime enquête réalisée par Ipsos pour Le Monde, vendredi 18 novembre et publiée sur notre site Web, au lendemain du dernier débat, donnait pour la première fois le député de Paris en tête (30 %) devant Alain Juppé et Nicolas Sarkozy, tous les deux à 29 %. On était encore loin du scénario du raz-de-marée de dimanche soir. le Monde.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 21, 2016 at 12:42 pm

Le Pen: All Elections are now Referendums on Unfettered (‘sauvage’) Globalisation.

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Protest at le Pen Interview.

The BBC reports.

France’s far-right leader has told the BBC that Donald Trump’s victory in the US has boosted her own chances of being elected president next year.

Marine Le Pen, who leads the French National Front (FN), said Mr Trump had “made possible what had previously been presented as impossible”.

She is widely expected to reach the second round of the election in May.

Ms Le Pen also held up Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule as model of “reasoned protectionism”.

Her Eurosceptic, anti-immigration party took more than 27% of the vote in regional elections last December but did not get control of any region because mainstream parties worked together to defeat it.

Analysts expect other parties to again rally behind her opponent in the presidential ballot, if she does reach the run-off.

These points stuck out from the broadcast interview (available here).

Welcoming Trump’s elections as part of the emergence of a new world replacing the old order Marine Le Pen claimed it was above all the victory of the People against the Elites and a sign of the emergence of new patriotic movements attached the Nation.

Citing the French  refusal of a European constitution (2005 European Referendum, 55% of voters rejecting the treaty on a turnout of 69%), and Brexit, in the light of the Trump win, the leader of the Front National asserted that these were signs that all elections were now becoming referendums against unfettered globalisation.

She asserted that Trump’s triumph made her own advance possible.

Le Pen stated that next April and May two round French Presidential election would offer a decisive choice,of ‘civilisation’ (that is, a whole political and cultural model). This would be between ‘multiculturalism’ on the “anglo saxon” model, in which Islamist fundamentalism is growing, inside a ‘region’  administered by technocrats from the EU, or, by contrast, an opportunity to choose for the creation of an independent nation.

This interview was not welcomed by everybody:

Marine Le Pen, leader of France’s far-right National Front, is to appear on the BBC’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’, according to an announcement by the program’s editor – and social media users are not happy about it.

Already facing criticism for airing the interview on Remembrance Sunday, editor of the show Rob Burley along with presenter Marr defended the move.

Russia Today. 

And,

BBC defends decision to air interview with Marine Le Pen on Remembrance Sunday

Critics said it was ‘inappropriate’ to give Front National’s Le Pen ‘a platform for fascism’.

International Business Times. 

We note that le Monde refuses to publish Le Pen’s ‘opinion pieces’ but only objective analyses of her actions and ideology ( Prendre Marine Le Pen aux mots; Pourquoi « Le Monde » ne publie pas de tribune de Marine Le Pen mais choisit de décortiquer en détail sa doctrine politique, pour mettre en lumière ses non-dits. October 2016).

 

The Independent says,

The leader of France’s far right National Front has said there is not a “hair’s breadth” between it and Ukip.

Marine Le Pen said it was “ridiculous” for Nigel Farage and others in Ukip to pretend otherwise.

Pressed on the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show about why Ukip refuses to associate itself with the National Front, Ms Le Pen said: “Sorry, no, but objectively, there is, on the topic of immigration and the European Union, there is not a hair’s breadth of difference between what Ukip thinks and what the National Front thinks, let’s be truthful here.

“Maybe Ukip is trying to counter the demonisation they are victim of by saying ‘we are the good guys and the National Front are the bad guys’, they can do so, but I don’t feel obliged to follow this strategy, because, frankly, I feel it’s a little bit ridiculous. “

Ms Le Pen, who has led a number of polls ahead of next spring’s French presidential election, denied that her party is racist, claiming that was a charge from the “elites”.

The far right leader claimed that the rise of nationalism across Europe was not a mirror of the 1930s.

“What doesn’t work is when you impose the same drugs on everyone, when clearly, if you will, the different countries are not suffering from the same disease, or that you want everyone to wear the same suit, but the suit will be too small and too big for everyone, except possibly for Germany, as they tailored it.”

Ms Le Pen predicted her election as French president next year will be the third act of a “global revolution” which has seen Brexit and Donald Trump’s seizure of the White House shake the world.

The National Front lender defended her party borrowing money from Russian banks as she praised Vladimir Putin.

She said his model of politics is “one of reasoned protectionism, looking after the interests of his country, defending his identity”.

Ms Le Pen blamed the EU and US for destabilising Europe and behaving aggressively towards Russia.

 Much has been made of Marine Le Pen’s stand on Islam.

Her latest campaign however is against uncontrolled immigration, ‘privileged’ migrants and asylum seekers which clearly resembles said UKIP and its fellow travellers in the British media (Les intox du FN sur les « privilèges » des migrants face aux Français).

 No opinion poll gives Marine Le Pen a chance of becoming French President – yet.

Written by Andrew Coates

November 13, 2016 at 12:11 pm

Comrade Maryam Namazie awarded the Prix de la Laïcité 2016.

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Image result for Maryam Namazie Prix de la laicite

Comrade Maryam Namazie at Paris Hôtel de Ville. 

 was awarded the  2016  Prix International de la Laïcité 2016  on Wednesday (Comité Laïcité République

The Parisian ceremony, hosted by the City Hall (Hôtel de Ville),  was attended by Anne Hidalgo,  Paris Mayor, and Manuel Valls, French Prime Minister (Paris).

“Maryam Namazie, scientifique iranienne et militante de la laïcité et des droits des femmes, a reçu le Prix international pour son action sans relâche. Elle a enthousiasmé le parterre par sa verve, sa fermeté et sa vision universaliste de la laïcité, meilleure protection contre les diktats obscurantistes.” (Communiqué du Comité Laïcité République, CLR)

The Iranian scientist, and activist for human rights and feminism, Maryam Namaziereceived the International Prize in recognition of her tireless, efforts. Her eloquence, her determination, and her universalist vision of secularism – the best protection against the diktats of obscurantism – were greeted by the audience with enthusiasm.

Namazie delivered this address: In Defence of Laïcité: Our Lives Depend on it.

I am truly honoured to have been awarded the International Secularism (Laicite) Prize from the Comité Laïcité République in Paris on 2 November. The wonderful Malek Boutih won the National Prix and Étienne-Émile Baulieu the Scientific Prize for 2016.

Here is my acceptance speech in English.

The French translation, thanks to Marieme Helie Lucas is available here.

Thank you for this wonderful honour. I am so glad to have the support of so many present here, including my husband and son, as well as my Muslim parents.

We live in an age where totalitarianism is masked as divine righteousness, theocrats legitimised, dissent vilified and victims blamed for their own murder.

This is a time where “solidarity” is no longer an act of defending revolutionaries but fascists; where there is always support for Islamist projects like Sharia courts, the burqa, gender segregation, apostasy and blasphemy laws – whether de jure or de facto – but never for those who refuse to be silenced, erased and “disappeared”.

It’s a time when “progressive” all too often means protecting regressive identity politics, which homogenises entire communities and societies, and deems theocrats as the sole legitimate arbiters and gatekeepers of “community” values.

It’s a politics of betrayal – devoid of class struggle and political ideals – which sees any dissent through Islamist eyes and immediately labels it “Islamophobic” and blasphemous.

We are called “aggressive apostates”, “fundamentalist secularists”, “native informants”, “inflammatory”. We are accused of violating the “safe spaces” of Islamists on universities and even “inciting hatred”.

Don’t believe it. That is the Islamist narrative.

In the world today, it is we who are being slaughtered not the other way round.

In their world everyone dies yet we are accused of being “offensive” – as if cartoons and apostasy are worse than murder.

Islamists discriminate against, shun, flog, imprison, terrorise, abduct, and slaughter but somehow it is always the victim whose “provocation” is to blame – whether it’s Charlie Hebdo or Avijit Roy…

Laicite is not a theoretical discussion for ivory tower academics and champagne socialists. It’s a matter of life and death for many of us:
• The likes of Asia Bibi in Pakistan facing execution for blasphemy
• Young ex-Muslims (Islam’s Non Believers) in Britain facing a life-time of shunning
• The likes of Afsana Lachaux whose rights violations in a discriminatory Sharia court in the Middle East have been upheld by French courts due to bilateral agreements
• Human Rights Activist Narges Mohammadi given a 16 year prison sentence for opposing executions; Jafar Azimzadeh sentenced to 11 years for labour organising; or dual nationals used as pawns such as Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliff as well as Siamak and Baquer Namazi in Iran
• Blogger Raif Badawi in Saudi Arabia sentenced to 10 years in prison and 1000 lashes for writing about religion and politics and on and on and on…

“Secularism is the solution”, is a graffiti Raif Badawi saw scrawled in a Saudi prison lavatory. Yet we are told that secularism is a neo-colonialist demand by so-called “anti-colonialists” whose worldview always coincides with the ruling elite, including in former colonies, and never the dissenters. Those “anti-fascists” who are only anti-some fascists, some of the time. Those who are “anti-racist” as long as we do not venture outside the pigeonholes that we are meant to live and be buried in; (if we dissent, though, they are at the forefront of insisting on racist cultural relativism and “different” rights for “different” people). The so-called progressives who condemn us to living lives within the confines of Islam whilst the sky has no limits for them…

They cannot begin to understand that no one needs Laicite more than those who live, struggle and die under the boot of the religious-Right.

And this includes the innumerable voting with their very feet and dying as we speak to seek refuge in secular societies, including the women, men and children of Calais, who deserve the basic human right to asylum and protection, not vilification and criminalisation.

And it includes believers. The right to religion must have a corresponding right to be free from religion to have any real meaning.

The historical battle that we are faced with today is not a clash of civilisations as the vile far-Right says in order to promote what is fundamentally white and often Christian identity politics. Rather, it’s a clash between theocrats on the one hand and secularists and universalists on the other – across real or imagined communities, borders and boundaries -and including many Muslims and migrants.

Secularism is not French or Western or Eastern; it’s universal.

It must be unequivocally and unashamedly defended against this era’s totalitarianism.

Today more than ever, we need Laicite and we need it now.

Our very lives depend on it.

Thank you.

We learn that the latest Charlie Hebdo has an account of a meeting with Namazie (“Rencontre avec Maryam Namazie, féministe iranienne et récemment récompensée du prix international de la laïcité par la Mairie de Paris.“).

In Britain comrade Maryam Namazie, of the  Worker-communist Party of Iran and  spokesperson of Fitnah- Movement for Women’s Liberation has not received the recognition that she is due.

Namazie strongly distances herself from far-right anti-Islamic groups, whom she doesn’t regard as allies, but enemies as well. At the World Atheist Conference in Dublin in 2011, referring to the far-right, she said “they are like the Islamists” and that Muslims need equal protection under the law, while she stressed the need to be able to criticise religion.

Despite these clearly expressed views she has been attacked by British obscurantists and their allies,

In September 2015, the students’ union of Warwick University briefly banned her from a forthcoming talk on campus organised by the Warwick Atheists, Secularists and Humanists’ Society because of a fear that she might “incite hatred” of the university’s Muslim students. In an interview with the Coventry Telegraphs Simon Gilbert, she was quoted as saying: “It angers me that we’re all put in a little box and that anyone who criticises Islam is labelled racist. It’s not racist, it’s a fundamental right. … The Islamic movement is a movement that slaughters people in the Middle East and Africa. It’s important for us to speak about it and criticise it.” The ban was lifted after a few days.

In December 2015 she gave a talk about blasphemy at the Goldsmiths University in London, sponsored by the university’s Atheist, Secularist and Humanist society. During her talk, members of the university’s Islamic Society caused a disruption by heckling and switching off her PowerPoint presentation when Namazie displayed a cartoon from the series Jesus and Mo. Namazie asked for the disruptive students to be removed, but security refused to do so.

Wikipedia. 

Glory to Maryam Namazie!

After Burkini Stunt in Villeneuve-Loubet (France) Exposed Seven Network and Zeynab Alshelh in Shame.

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Capture d'écran du reportage australien diffusé sur la chaîne Channel 7 montrant deux australiennes en burkini dans les rues de Villeneuve-Loubet. "J'ai simplement pensé que c'était super beau le burkini, ma mère, ma tante, tout le monde le portait, alors j'ai voulu faire pareil", explique notamment Zeynab Alshelh, 23 ans (à droite), pour justifier son choix du port de ce maillot de bain.

Australian Islamists and Television Channel Falsified Stunt to Attack French Secularism.

The Seven Network and the pugnacious Muslim Aussie family it flew to the French Riviera with the aim of provoking beachgoers into a “racist” reaction to the “Aussie cossie” burkini owe the traumatised people of Nice and France a swift apology.

The cynical stunt pulled by the Sunday Night program, where it spirited Sydney hijab-proselytising medical student Zeynab Alshelh and her activist parents off to a beach near Nice to “show solidarity” with (radically conservative) Muslims, featured the 23-year-old flaunting her burkini in an obvious attempt to bait Gallic sun lovers into religious and ethnically motivated hatred. Except according to the French people filmed against their will, the claimed “chasing off the beach” that made international headlines never occurred because Seven used hidden camera tactics, selective editing and deliberate distor­tion to reach its predeter­mined conclusions.

This unethical exercise in journalism deliberately painted France as “hostile to Muslims” even though the most hostile countries in the world for Muslim women are places such as Iran and Saudi Arabia, where being female entails forcible veiling and the threat of punishment with the lash, prison or worse for flouting bans on driving, playing sport, committing “adultery” or doing much at all without a male guardian.

The manipulation is the latest example of calculated French-bashing fuelled by collusion between the goals of political Islam and compliant media outlets seeking culture clash cliches.

The Australian.

The article concludes:

Next time Seven should finance Zeynab Alshelh trying her luck taking off her veil in Saudi Arabia or Iran, or perhaps the trainee doctor could use hidden camera techniques in Egypt on doctors practising illegal female genital mutilation on the vast majority of little girls.

But as she confesses to Inquirer: “I’m not going to put myself in that kind of danger — and anyway, they are not preaching secularism (like France) they are just doing whatever they want to do.”

This is the origin of the Australian’s exposé, Nice-Matin:

La chaîne de télévision australienne Channel 7 a diffusé ce samedi la vidéo d’une femme en burkini se faisant “chasser” d’une plage de Villeneuve-Loubet par des baigneurs. Selon un témoin, la scène est montée de toute pièce.

The Australian television Channel 7 broadcast a video of a woman in a ‘burkini’ chased from a beach in Villeneuve-Loubet by the bathers. According to a witness the incident was a set up.

“Witnesses who spoke to Nice-Matin accused Seven of using hidden cameras, scripted dialogue and deliberately disruptive behaviour to get a reaction.”

“We could see it was being dramatised, it was too much to be true and it stank of a set-up.

“They put themselves right in the middle of the jet-ski corridor of the private beach. Because they were in the way of others, the owner of the beach came out and asked them to move.”

Another witness claimed the man who asked the crew to leave was her uncle, but he was actually asking the crew to stop filming him and his family.

“He never asked these three people to leave the beach. He spoke to the camera because he was asking the cameraman to leave,” the witness said.

“There were children on the beach, including our own, and we didn’t want them to be filmed.”

This the Channel denies, “Channel Seven denies French Burkini segment was ‘a set-up’.”

But a few days ago L’Express also indicated that in order to illustrate the anti-Muslim feeling in France the only French political figure interviewed was…..Lionel Tivoli, President of the Front National of the Municipal Council of Antibes. They cite the Mayor of  Villeneuve-Loubet, Lionnel Luca (of the right-wing, Les Républicains) expressing regret that the young woman was not well received, but asking why they chose to come to a place still under the shock of the Bastille Day (14th July) massacre at close-by Nice.

In August the Burkini Ban was removed from Villeneuve-Loubet, following the decision of the Conseil d’Etat.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 25, 2016 at 11:50 am

Nuit Debout: “It did not take off”, Frédéric Lordon.

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Nuit Debout: A Spark that did not Light a Prairie Fire.

Nuit debout was a French movement that began on 31 March 2016, arising out of protests against proposed labour reforms known as the El Khomri law or Loi travail. The movement was organised around a broad aim of “overthrowing the El Khomri bill and the world it represents”. It was compared to the Occupy movement in the United States and to Spain’s anti-austerity 15-M or Indignados movement. Occupy, and its much smaller imitation in the UK, Like the former, and unlike the latter, it failed to make any lasting connection with wider political forces. 

Nuit Debout was best known for its months long 2016 occupation of the Place de la République in Paris.

Organisers refused to set out a specific list of political demands in advance, although they did denounce the government’s proposed reforms as regressive, and they called for the construction of a new political project that would be “ambitious, progressive, and emancipatory”.

Lordon played an instrumental role in the rise of the Nuit debout movement. He wrote a piece in the February 2016 issue of Le Monde diplomatique on François Ruffin‘s film, Merci patron!, describing the film as a clarion call for a potential mass uprising. This prompted Ruffin to organise a public meeting which led to the organisation of the public occupation of Paris’s Place de la République on 31 March 2016. Lordon delivered a speech at the 31 March protest, highlighting the goal of uniting disparate protest movements. He subsequently refused to talk to national media about his role in the movement, explaining that he did not wish to be seen as the leader of a leaderless movement. More Frédéric Lordon, Nuit Debout ‘Leader’: Diamond Geezer, or….Not?.

Lordon has also been criticised for his ‘soverigentist’ tendencies: that is a belief that French democracy must first be transformed,  however grass-roots led – on a national scale. This means he is against the pooling of sovereignty in the European Union, attacking its ne-libeal and amrket inflection but   offers no concept of how internationalist democracy may be built. (1)

A more radical critique is offered of this type of politics in the latest Red Pepper,

Occupations, assemblies and direct action – a critique of ‘body politics’ Joseph A Todd .

Todd argues that the demand for “presence” at such assemblies (Occupy Wall Street, London, the small camp at St Paul’s, the  Place de la République), is questionable.

Inclusion in the polis was premised on physical presence – both in that decision making was conducted in general assemblies for extended periods of time, but also in that non-participation in the general assembly constituted a symbolic exclusion from the performative spectacle that became the symbol of the movement. And while the lack of demands was partly rooted in a distrust of existing institutions, we can also trace it back to body politics, the belief that bodies together is enough to create change, that bodies in space could prefigure the revolution.

Others have criticised the “consensus” ideal of these movements, which excludes serious debate, and represses minorities, while allowing for a fictitious agreement to be manipulated by an unacknowledged and unaccountable  leadership – the “tyranny of structurelessness”.  Or, more simply, the offputting rules that govern these assemblies, including strange signs to signify intervention in discussions, agreement, or disagreement. Nuit Debout did not enforce consensus – voting was by majority – but adopted many of these alienating procedures.

Nuit Debout existed for some months, brought important issues about the effects of markets, and the failings of democracy in French society and Europe  to the fore, had some interesting debates about democratic structures and the remoteness of official French politics, and inspired some to continue to seek an alternative to liberal pro-market politics.

It never touched the core of the labour movement or the banlieue.

Now we learn that Lordon, still one of the leading voices in the movement, acknowledges it has failed to take hold.

Frédéric Lordon fait le bilan de Nuit Debout : “On ne va pas se raconter d’histoire, le feu n’a pas pris”

la puissance de la multitude” – the might of the multitude has not taken off.

The Bondy Blog interview is in a typical, highly abstract and philosophical vein,  complete with references to Spinoza (one hears echoes of Toni Negri here, as the term multitude suggests already), and La Boétie.

It is heavy going, even for those used to Lordonese.

Fortunately Les Inrocks summarises the key points in which Lordon assesses the successes and the – very evident – petering out of the movement:

Tous les mouvements insurrectionnels commencent à très petite échelle. Le problème pour le pouvoir c’est quand ‘ça gagne’, quand la plaine entière vient à s’embraser. On ne va pas se raconter d’histoire, le feu n’a pas (ou pas encore) pris. Je crois cependant que beaucoup de gens qui étaient loin de l’événement l’ont regardé avec intérêt, et qu’il s’est peut être passé quelque chose dans les têtes dont nous ne pouvons pas encore mesurer tous les effets.”

All insurrectional movements begin small scale. The problem for those in power is when this “takes off”, when the social terrain is swept up in their heat. I am not going to hide the fact that in this case the spark has not (or has not yet) caught fire. I consider nevertheless that many people who were distant from the event watched it keenly, and what took place inside our heads has had effects which we have not really come to grips with yet.

Lordon talks of the “violence des “gardiens de l’ordre” which radicalised the participants in Nuit Debout. But he denied that there was any link between the movement and the ‘casseurs’ (hooligans) who led attacks on the Police and property to demonstrations in France earlier this year, and who provoked a strong counter-reaction.

 The Inrocks also cites Nuit debout, l’instant d’après. Pour un bilan qui n’en soit pas un by .

This is a more intelligible and serious balance-sheet (bilan) of the movement.

Marzel celebrates Nuit Debout’s existence in an “oligarchic regime” and presence in the ” imaginaire politique alternatif”, its democratic experiments, and – apparently – resistance to “narcissism”  as victories in themselves. It did not, however, help stop the new Labour law. And, “Nuit debout s’est rapidement élargie à une contestation de toute la politique du gouvernement et à un rejet global du capitalisme mondialisé.” – it quickly expanded to challenge all the government’s policies, and a complete rejection of globalised capitalism.”

Manzel does not hide that there problems with sexism, intoxication, internal disputes, inside Nuit Debout. Yet he considers that core message of  of the protests was part of the “Miracle” of politics in the sense celebrated by Hannah Arendt.  That is, we might comments,  creative action and reflection by equal citizens that breaks  governmental routine and helps create free public realm.

While some may hope that a new wave of protests may arise in France this autumn Nuit Debout has reached some kind of terminus.

*****

 (1) “Frédéric Lordon offers a radical critique of the construction of Europe. We can only agree when he interprets ‘the oddity of building Europe as a gigantic operation of the political elimination … of popular sovereignty itself’. The Enchanted World of Common Currency – On the Article by Frédéric Lordon).