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The French-American Foundation Weekly Brief
May 1, 2010
The French-American Foundation reviews what's happened in France this week.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife Carla Bruni arrived in China on Wednesday, April 28 as part of a state visit aimed at repairing French-Chinese relations, Le Figaro reports. While in the Asian nation, the couple attended the opening of the France pavilion at this year's World Expo in Shanghai. Sarkozy also sought Chinese support for sanctions against Iran. Relations hit a low between France and China in 2008 after France granted Tibetan spiritual leader and China critic, the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship.
France announced on Tuesday, April 27 that it will help the Congo Republic feed the roughly 120,000 refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo who have been displaced by fighting in the area. The French government will provide food and other humanitarian relief as needed. The announcement comes following a meetingbetween French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his Congo Republic counterpart President Sassou Nguesso.
A routine traffic stop in Nantes has grown into a national debate over Islamic dress, civil liberties and polygamy, National Public Radio reports. On April 2, police pulled over an unnamed woman and cited her for driving while dressed in a full face-covering Islamic veil, arguing it compromised her safety and that of other drivers by reducing her vision. The woman called a press conference and denounced what she referred to as an infringement on her rights. In the aftermath it was revealed that the woman's husband, Lies Hebbadj was accused by the government of having four wives who receive state welfare as single mothers to raise the man's 12 children. Though Hebbadj claim's three of the women are mistresses, the authorities are now looking into revoking his citizenship, Le Figaro reports.
Le Figaro reported on Tuesday, April 27 that President Nicolas Sarkozy and Socialist rival Martine Aubry, are polling neck and neck at 25 percent each, two years before the 2012 presidential election. Marine Le Pen, the likely future head of the rightwing National Front party, polled at 13 percent. According to the poll's director, Frederic Dabi, Le Pen is benefitting from the fact that respondents feel less shame in voting for her than for her father and FN party founder Jean-Marie Le Pen.
On Thursday, April 29, the Associated Press reported on a new initiative launched last week by the Catholic Church in France to recruit more young priests. The 250,000 euro campaign will use Facebook and other new media outlets to reach potential clergymen and will run through May 1, 2010. Today there are approximately 24,000 priests in France down from 42,000 in 1975.
A French judge ruled on Tuesday, April 27, that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega is to be held in France until his trial over drug money laundering charges. French prosecutors accuse Noriega of transferring 2.3 million euros into French bank accounts from Colombian drug traffickers. According to Le Monde, the 76 year old's lawyers have argued that France does not have jurisdiction to try his case and that the onetime leader should be sent home to Panama. In 1990, U.S. forces captured Noriega, who spent the last 20 years in an American jail.
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