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What the weeklies said 22 April 2018

rfi English, Apr 22

The weeklies are filled with lengthy features on the social unrest that has brought universities and certain localities to a standstill as well as the growing number of far left and far right groups who use violent action.

Such is the case of Marianne which features an article entitled A France Of Extremes. It looks at how these small groups are taking advantage of social tensions to ignite violence, which according to the left leaning magazine, and under Macron's rule, is the only means via which they know how to articulate their so-called ideology.

Marianne believes that it is through political debate that the government will manage to neutralise the hooligans. Although the ZAD area of the Notre-Dame-des-Landes, which gained international fame by fighting off plans to build an airport, attracts mainly far left militants and anarchists, French universities have been a playground for both extremities of the political spectrum. But it is only in the last few years that the use of violence has intensified.

L'Obs features an interview with American author and French culture historian Kristin Ross who believes President Emmanuel Macron hasn't understood the ZAD. She asks "How can one claim to celebrate [the 50th anniversary] of May 68 [the year of contestation] while sending heavily armed forces to Notre-Dame-des-Landes?" She recalls first visiting the Zadist stronghold in the spring of 2016 describing it as a peaceful hippy commune with horses, dogs and more old people and women than are usually found in those sorts of places. She says that throughout her multiple visits to this area which rejects capitalism, she did occasionally witness moments of tensions between intellectuals and self-taught people, or original farmers and "naturalists" who believe nature should not be controlled in any ways.

She describes it as a place open to dialogue where solidarity is key and wonders why Emmanuel Macrons can't accept that people decided to live outside the capitalist system.

"What scares him so much that he has had to resort to using violence?". She rejected an invitation by the Elysée Palace to take part in celebrations of May 68 because she says, unlike them she still believes the people can want to change the world and that ‘68 did not mark the end of revolutionary ideals and the hope of an alternative way of living.

Conservative Le Point feels very cool having spent a week embedded with Paris'sTolbiac University students/protesters who are fighting the admission reforms Macron is trying to implement. An article entitled "Zadistsgo to University" features photos from their time holed up with the students, quotes one as enthusiastically saying "Before the blockade, I'd never spent as much time at the University ".

In the pages of l'Express a short article is dedicated to " Che" the mascot doggy of Tolbiac University. Will he become as famous as Tintin's Snowy or Lassie? The snout of Che has become a symbol of student resistance. He's brought his cool collected doggy calm to a number of videos, has a twitter account and apparently lives off a diet of vegan and gluten free dog biscuits. According to L'Express, he's the best correspondent reporting from behind the barricades.

You can't help but wish his face had graced the magazine's cover rather than Marion Marechal Le Pen's, France's national front mascot who may be bridging the gap between the far right and the conservative party.

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