Freedom, equality and fraternity are put to the test in France


Today, when I left my apartment for my morning run, I saw that someone had scribbled in the yard in large letters in chalk ” Hold on, Neighbors (Hang in there, neighbors).

It could have been a message for the whole country. France is sagging after two and a half weeks of total foreclosure and the fact that today is the start of the official Easter holidays will only scare the nerves. To make matters worse, the country will get a taste of summer this weekend with temperatures from Paris to the Pyrenees forecast to hit 74 ° F on Sunday.

In an interview with the Minister of the Interior today, Christophe Castaner, revealed that since the foreclosure of France on March 17, 6.7 million identity checks have been imposed, resulting in 406,283 fines for violation of rules of the general containment

Castaner has warned the country that the police will be especially vigilant this weekend as it is the start of the Easter holidays and that anyone considering sneaking by the sea should think again.

At the moment, there is a wave of dissatisfaction with the ongoing imprisonment, but earlier in the week, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the leader of the far left France Insoumise, became the first prominent politician to demand answers on the duration of the isolation. Memes have started to circulate on social networks, one of which invites people to name the day when they will crack.

Perhaps feeling the growing turmoil, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe began to talk about how “deconfinement” will be managed, implying that people will be released in stages, depending on immunity, age and geographic location.

Philippe will also be dismayed by the worsening economic and social situation in France. On Wednesday, it was announced that new car sales in March had fallen by more than 72%, prompting François Roudier of the French Automobile Manufacturers’ Committee (CCFA) to say: “It’s historic, we haven’t never seen a fall like this. “

On Thursday, it was revealed that 3.9 million workers were on paid leave or, as the Minister of Labor, Muriel Penicaud said, “one in five French workers in companies or associations is on short work”.

But arguably the most calamitous news was at the start of the week, when Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer revealed that since the lockdown started, between five and eight percent of students have been “lost” With their teachers unable to reach them electronically. Blanquer said he feared that France is “widening the inequalities” that already exist in many areas.

A friend, who teaches teenagers in a public school in an impoverished suburb north of Paris, told me that his own experience supports Blanquer’s statistics: despite the launch of a WhatsApp group for its students, four of them they, all boys, did not time two weeks.

The summer term in France begins on April 20, but Blanquer does not expect students to return to class until May 4 at the earliest. His concern is that thousands of other children will move away from their electronic desktops, especially at the start of Ramadan in April.

The month-long fast schedule is a puzzle the government could have done without. While Muslim leaders in France have called on the faithful to observe Ramadan in accordance with internment laws, and the vast majority will, there will no doubt be young extremists who will see it as an opportunity to challenge Republican authority. .

There have been reports of angry clashes between youth gangs and police in some areas in recent days, and according to the French equivalent of Private Eye, The Chained Duck, Laurent Nuñez, who works at the Interior Ministry, hinted that some areas would not be as heavily watched, saying “it is not a priority if the rules are not followed in certain areas”. This admission will give faith to these social commentators in France who have long warned against the “lost territories of the Republic”, where French law is brazenly flouted. Nuñez was on the radio this morning to warn the French that 160,000 police and gendarmes would patrol the country today because “the virus is not going on vacation”.

It is not the first time that the French Interior Ministry has been accused of double standards; Castaner was ruthless in canceling the Yellow Vests movement and yet he seems to have taken a much more conciliatory stance with extreme Islamism. If the French begin to sense that there is one rule of containment for them and one for extremists, then the spirit of “Hold on tight“Will soon evaporate.

This article originally appeared on The spectatorBritish website.


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