Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
France attempted the arguably impossible on Wednesday by presenting a bill to ban Muslim face veils and asking Muslims not to feel it was singling them out in the process.
President Nicolas Sarkozy made a brave effort of it at the cabinet meeting that approved the government's draft "burqa ban" that we reported on here. Justice Minister Michèle Alliot-Marie, who Sarkozy's UMP party always seems to call on when things get tough, did her best in an interview (here in French) that got the part about Mecca wrong. There will be more of this in the months ahead as the bill moves through the National Assembly and Senate.
It's hard not to single out Muslims when they're the only ones who wear full face veils. The bill avoids mentioning them as such, saying only that the ban applies to "concealment of the face in public." But nobody's fooled, a fact Sarkozy acknowledged in his comments to the cabinet: "This is a decision one doesn't take lightly. It's a serious decision because nobody should feel hurt or stigmatised. I'm thinking in particular of our Muslim compatriots, who have their place in the republic and should feel respected. Laïcité means respect for all beliefs, for all religions.
"But we are an old nation united around a certain idea of personal dignity, particularly women's dignity, and of life together. It's the fruit of centuries of efforts. The full veil that fully conceals the face violates these values that are so fundamental for us, so essential to the republican contract. Dignity cannot be divided and in the public sphere, where we meet each other, where we are with others, citizenship should be lived with uncovered faces. So ultimately there can be no other solution than a ban in all public places."
Who do you call when you want to speak to Europe? The question, long attributed to Henry Kissinger, has yet to be answered convincingly by the 27-country European Union.
Six months ago, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso told a news conference the person to call on foreign policy issues was Catherine Ashton, who had just been chosen as the European Union’s foreign affairs chief. The “so-called Kissinger issue is now solved”, he said.
The results of European Parliament election have caused deep concern in European Union candidate Turkey, where gains made by conservatives and some far-right parties have been read as a clear win by the “No to Turkey” camp” and thus a blow to Ankara’s already troubled EU membership quest.
Trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the vote as a “futile effort by those who cannot digest Turkey’s enormity and strategic importance”. He said politicians who vilified Turkey to win votes in the short term would be judged by history.
from Africa News blog:
Before Nicolas Sarkozy was elected president in 2007, he made clear he wanted to break with France’s old way of doing business in Africa – a cosy blend of post-colonial corruption and patronage known as “Françafrique” that suited a fair few African dictators and the French establishment alike.
“The old pattern of relations between France and Africa is no longer understood by new generations of Africans, or for that matter by public opinion in France. We need to change the pattern of relations between France and Africa if we want to look at the future together,” Sarkozy said in South Africa early last year.