Monday, November 14, 2005

French hurricane

How do you say hurricane in French? Ouragan. And boomerang? Boumerang.

Because I am French (oui, oui), lots of people are asking me all the time what I think of the current events in France.

Well it's hard to tell from across the Pyrenees.

As recently as last week I was in France, though. I even spent some time with Dominique Voynet, who is a Senator for Seine-St-Denis, the Paris suburb where it all started. It was just a few hours after the French government had authorised a temporary state of emergency. No-one can nor should question, of course, that the properties of people who have worked honestly all their lives and have saved money to have a car (often their only means of transportation to work outside the suburbs) must be protected. And that the destruction of gyms, schools and other installations that are for everyone, must be avoided at all (legitimate) costs.

But now, with the government's decision to prolong the state of emergency for three months, are we entering in an entirely different game?

It is fairly easy to ask questions. It is more difficult to provide answers.

One key question of course is who is benefiting from this state of affairs? These guys? Or this guy? And can those trying to make sense of it all be heard above the background noise? Those who are not falling in cheap demagogy, who want to protect democracy against all odds?

Another question is what will the lasting impact be on the image of France abroad? Hurricane Bush must be enjoying when he watches it all on CNN, don't you think? And Bomber Rumsfeld?

How do you say "question mark" in French? Point d'interrogation.

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