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What the papers said 2 July 2018

rfi English, Jul 2

Security, not aid, to dominate President Macron's Africa visit; questions loom as dangerous gangster escapes from prison using a helicopter; and Simone Veil is recognised at the Pantheon.

We begin with comments about President Emmanuel Macron's latest visit to Africa as he flew to Mauritania on Monday to attend the African Union Summit, before paying a high-profile official visit to Nigeria.

Libération says that despite the uproar about the migrants issue, Macron's "Africa Tour" will focus on security matters instead of humanitarian issues.

According to the left-leaning newspaper, NGO's are expressing concerns that Macron's top priority now is bolstering the G5 Sahel Force instead of boosting development aid.

Some of today's papers are preoccupied by the so-called malaise sweeping through Germany. This is as Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a rebellion against her immigration policy inside her government led by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer. The paper says that Seehofer continues to reject EU deals reached last week by Merkel as inadequate and plans to turn away asylum seekers at the border with Austria registered in other European countries.

The failure of the CDU and CSU to agree on a common migrants' policy that has left Merkel's political future is in doubt.

According to Le Figaro, the impression one gets is that pessimism and self-deprecation had crossed into the other side of the River Rhine, obliging the German papers to multiply headlines albeit familiar to French ears.

One example raised by the publication is this weekend's Der Spiegel, whose front-page splash is the German flag, the paper speaking of the country as something of the past. "Once upon a time", it writes, "there was a country powerful in football, the economy and in politics".

Gangster at large

Le Parisien is all about organised crime. The paper investigates the spectacular escape of Redoine Faïd from a maximum security prison in the Parisian neighborhood of Réau with the help of heavily armed accomplices.

Faïd was serving 25 years in jail for masterminding a botched armed robbery of a cash-in-transit vehicle in 2010 in which a police woman was killed.

According to the newspaper he escaped in the helicopter hijacked from a terrified instructor. It took 10 minutes for two black-clad men armed with assault rifles to set off smoke bombs, break their way into the prison's visitation room, and get away with their man, while unarmed wardens at the facility fled to safety.

Le Parisien quotes police as saying that the chopper was later found in a northeastern suburb of Paris about 60 kilometers from the prison. A car which they apparently went on to use, was later found torched in a shopping mall car park. The paper reports that some 2,900 police and gendarmes have been mobilised for a nationwide manhunt.

The newspaper wonders how come such an operation could be so well prepared and how come security conditions as the Réau maximum security prison, housing one of France's most notorious gangsters, could be so lax.

L'Est Républicain for its part recalls that on the day of his previous escape, which was also during a weekend, Redoine Faïd shot in the air and told warders at the northern-based prison of Sequedin, “You're not going to get yourselves killed for a mere 1500 euros per month.”

Simone Veil

President Emmanuel Macron's decision to transfer the remains of Simone Veil to the Pantheon on Sunday one year and a day after she died receives wide acclaimed from the commentators.

Le Parisien reports that thousands of people gathered in Paris on Sunday to pay their final respects to the Holocaust survivor and women's rights icon, considered as one of France's most popular and trusted public figures.

Libération contrasts President Macron’s moving "thank you Simone" tribute at the Pantheon, with the ill-tempered wrangling at the EU Summit in Brussels, while another makeshift boat loaded with a hundred more migrants sank off the Libyan coast.

La Croix recalls that Simone Veil was 16 when she was deported along with family members in 1944 to Auschwitz and that her mother, father and brother were killed in the Holocaust.

According to the Catholic daily, it is sad to imagine that Veil who as first woman to head the European Parliament championed the major political victory of legalising abortion in 1974 may actually be the last great architect of the European dream.

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