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What’s New(s) La revue de presse anglophone #2 – 23/10/2020

Written by on 23 octobre 2020

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

This weekly broadcast series presents you the European news from different angles and perspectives. Which events and developments have made the news, and how? Each week we discuss one topic which has been reported by the press in various countries across the continent, taking a closer look at different writings and quotes. 

Topic of this week: How the beheading of a French teacher made the headlines across the Union

You’ll find the script below:

Last Friday, the French nation was shocked by the decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty just outside of Paris. Mass protests were organised throughout the country to pay tribute to the beheaded teacher, described by the BBC as a ” dramatic show of national unity ” and by Deutsche Welle as a “legion of honour

Macron used fierce words last weekend, stating he ‘grants the enemies of the Republic not a minute of respite’. How has the event, and the tough stance of the French government been perceived by the press in other EU countries?

Most newspapers underlined the connection between the teacher’s beheading and the still ongoing threat of jihadism.

In Spain, the event made the first page of El País, that described how Paris and other French cities became a stage to defend freedom of expression. According to competitor El Mundo, the teacher was clearly the target of a fatwa issued, thereby citing French Home Affairs Minister Gérald Darmanin, as did the German newspaper Der Spiegel.

According to researcher Jeanine de Roy in Dutch newspaper NRC, the beheading of the teacher serves as a ‘wake-up-call’ for Europe. The threat of jihadism is still present, she argues, even though it seems to be less of a ‘hot topic’ in the press since IS has lost ground.

Has the event also been perceived as a threat to the French core values?

Yes, according to Lucy Williamson in the BBC for example, the beheading of the teacher deepens divisions over French identity. She describes how many French teachers report worrying trends among a minority of students who seem ‘at odds’ with French laws and values. A growing number of people in France are uncomfortable with laïcité being at the core of French identity, as it doesn’t apply to them, she says, thereby deepening divisions between those who defend the French values, and those who don’t. According to German newspaper Der Spiegel, the tragedy affected everyone in France, because the attack on the teacher was also an attack on the Republic.

So, I guess that Macron’s statement arguing that there is a need to intensify the actions against radical Islamist organisations was kind of well perceived?

Kind of. Some argue that Macron is forced to toughen his approach on radical Islamist activity as a response to a series of Islamist terrorist attacks. According to the Guardian, Islamist violence been has prompted opposition parties on the right to accuse the government of battling with words rather than taking action. Nicholas Vinocur wrote in Politico that the beheading can be a political opportunity of Marine Le Pen, who is “once again in her element — vowing to shut down borders and rain hellfire on terrorists”

But apart from this shocking story, which other events made the headlines in the press EU countries this week? Starting with Spain.

Well, besides the vote of no confidence that the VOX party has launched against the government of Pedro Sanchez, the front pages of the Spanish press, both national and local, have focused on the European Union recovery funds for Spain. We have seen this issue reflected on the front pages of El País, El Mundo, La Vanguardia, La Voz de Galicia and many others. In terms of international affairs, the victory of Movimiento al Socialismo, Evo Morales’ Party, in Bolivia has made headlines in the Spanish media this week.

And moving to France, where you’re currently based?

The decapitation of Samuel Paty has obviously taken the spotlight in French Newspapers during the week. Other than that, French media have focused on the tensions in the Middle East, with mentions to the unstable situation of Syria and Lebanon and the conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. They also underline the worrying impact that the measures taken to reduce the impact of COVID pandemic will have on the European economies. Especially on the Spanish one, as reported by a front page article on Le Figaro this Monday.

And what about Dutch press?

The King’s badly planned holidays made the headlines this week. While the country was placed under a ‘partly lockdown’, the royal family was taking some time off in Greece, until extensive media coverage and public debate made them return. Foreign stories that made the headlines were the elections in Bolivia, and ongoing protests in Chile, Thailand and Nigeria. “Nigerian army kills several protesters” was the title in NRC yesterday.

crédit photo:  MichaelGaida


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