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What the weeklies said 1 April 2018

rfi English, Apr 1

France pays tribute to rare great hero Colonel Arnaud Beltrame for making the ultimate sacrifice in hostage swap; former President Sarkozy faces the music for suspected dealings with Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi after being charged with corruption; and China’s ambitions.

French Hero

“Life and destiny of a hero”. “The Republic against barbarism”. These are some of the captions of the week’s cover page stories as they pay tribute to Colonel Arnaud Beltrame who sacrificed his live to save that of a supermarket cashier taken hostage by a jihadist in Trèbes, last week. Beltrame was one of the four people gunned down by the 25-year-old radicalised gunman.

Marianne says that while new recruits to the army must accept the idea of ultimate sacrifice to become a soldier, people who knew the Gendarmerie officer during his years of service in Afghanistan and the Sahel were not surprised by his selflessness. He was always a go-getter right to the marrow, said a paratrooper who served under the Colonel’s command.

But for left leaning l’Obs, decorated Colonel’s decision, who took the place of a hostage in a supermarket siege, gives him a celestial status in the eyes of the French people.

Could he have been driven by faith? L’Obs says the question deserved being examined as Beltrame was not just a devout Catholic but also a French Mason.

The history of humanity is like that of the God’s which is nourished by sacrifices of all sorts, holds the Conservative l’Express. The weekly makes the point that mothers sacrifice for their children, soldiers for their country, martyrs for their faith and rescuers for drowning people.

Right-wing Le Point, for its part, claims that one thing Colonel Beltrame will be remembered for is that he proved beyond any doubt that jihadists don’t have a monopoly of sacrifice and that in today’s free world there are real combatants in the armed forces who are not afraid to die for their country.

Le Canard Enchaîné regrets that the national tribute paid to the murdered Colonel took place in a tense atmosphere of national disunity. This was after the opposition Republican party leaders Laurent Wauquiez broke the tradition of national communion to criticise the government’s alleged “complacency with terror and foreigners linked to Islamists allowed with a lot of naivety to continue benefitting from France’s hospitality”

Gaddafi's ghost in France

In a week when ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy’s judicial problems took a turn for the worse, l’Obs takes a deep look at the Libyan affair which it claims is loaded with suitcases of bank notes, shady arms contracts, corrupt intermediaries, and suspicious deaths. L’Obs argues that between Colonel Gaddafi's trip to Paris where he was received with great pomp at the Elysée Palace and Sarkozy’s indictment for bankrolling his 2007 presidential campaign with Libyan money, lies a scenario that sounds like a thriller.

Le Canard Enchaîné also comes back on the judicial investigation into what it calls "the Libyan money" satirising real smoking guns, false leads and how “Sarko” and his judges are literally “rowing” in Libyan quicksand in search of who to “Gaddafi.”

China's Great Helmsman Xi

L’Express has an in-depth report about the global ambitions of China’s Communist party and its President Xi Jinping who since a March 11 constitutional amendment can become a president for life if he wishes.

The magazine says the 19th Congress of the Communist party handed Xi the right to program the implementation of his new deal for the Chinese nation up to 2050.

Le Point lays out the remarkable achievements of China's economy under President Xi for everyone to see. 125 billion euros of dividends generated in 2017 by some 2450 start-ups listed on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock markets. That represents a 16 per cent rise from 2016. L’Express also reports that China's economy now boasts 3500 multinationals with a joint capital of 7000 billion euros.

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