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French report French report
by Euro Reporter
2010-07-09 09:04:20
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Anti-veil law risks being shot down by constitutional council

A proposed law against the wearing of the full Islamic veil in French public spaces is to be sent to France’s Constitutional Council after being voted on by the Parliament. That was the surprise announcement by Jean-Francois Cope, head of the ruling UMP party in parliament, during a debate on the text by the French National Assembly on Wednesday.

The ‘Sages’ (wise ones), as the Constitutional Council of France is popularly known, are charged with examining the compatibility of laws with the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution. But there’s a strong chance that they will reject a general ban on the Muslim veil, making it a risky bet for the majority party.

Back in March, the State Council, an advisory government body headed by the prime minister, expressed serious reserves on a “general and absolute ban on the wearing of the full veil as such or any method of concealing the face in all public spaces," saying that the act "would be exposed to serious risks with regards to the Constitution...". Gilles Devers, a lawyer in Lyon and co-author of the book Law and Islam, agrees: "This law touches on fundamental freedoms, it will not withstand the scrutiny of the Constitutional Council," he said.


L'Oreal donations scandal

Claire Thibout, Liliane Bettencourt’s former accountant, met with the billionaire L’Oreal heiress’s financial advisor Patrice de Maistre in a three-hour confrontation at police headquarters in Paris on Thursday, as part of an ongoing investigation into whether Bettencourt made an illegal contribution to Nicolas Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign.
Thibout stuck to the latest version of her story, put forward during a first round of questioning by economic crime investigators on Wednesday night in the city of Nîmes, near her home in the south of France. When initially interrogated, she largely backtracked on statements that she had made to the news Web site Mediapart on Tuesday July 6, and has apparently since testified that some of the details which appeared on Mediapart were inaccurate. “I never said that…envelopes were regularly delivered to Mr. Sarkozy,” Thibout stated.
This is the first and most significant point on which Thibout contradicts herself. Her latter testimony stands in stark contrast to Mediapart’s July 6 article, which quoted Thibout providing detailed descriptions of dinners at Bettencourt’s house, at the end of which Sarkozy, then-mayor of the upscale Paris suburb Neuilly-sur-Seine, “would also receive his envelope”.

'Ashamed' Escalettes quits French Football Federation

Federation president Jean-Pierre Escalettes is ashamed of France's World Cup fiasco and accepting a large share of responsibility for what happened. Escalettes resigned on Friday before the federation's federal council, but he is staying on the job until July 23. An announcement on his successor had been widely expected after Friday's meeting, but officials wanted more time to choose one. At a news conference, Escalettes offered his first lengthy public explanation to the French about what he called the ``debacle'' at the World Cup. France finished the first round without a single victory, and worse, there were open conflicts between the squad and team management.

At one point, France players boycotted a training session to protest Nicolas Anelka's exclusion from the squad following an expletive-filled tirade directed at Coach Raymond Domenech. ``I am ashamed, and I present my apologies to the French football world and fans,” Escalettes said Escalettes, who has run the federation since 2005, spoke with feeling of a moment of crisis during the World Cup _ when he tried unsuccessfully to get players to change their mind about boycotting their practice. ``I have always appealed to my heart and mind, in my professional life and in life in general, and there, I found myself up against youths for whom these arguments had no weight,'' he said.
He said he took responsibility ``for being unable to convince these players to get off the bus and do their job.'' The federation also confirmed the replacement of retiring Coach Raymond Domenech by former Bordeaux coach Laurent Blanc, a World Cup winner with France in 1998 and a European Championship winner two years later. Domenech's last gesture at the Cup was his refusal to shake hands with the rival coach after France's final loss to South Africa.
Escalettes said he was ``disappointed in (Domenech), but above all disappointed in myself.'' Escalettes was widely criticized for his decision to stand by Domenech despite France's humiliating first-round exit at Euro 2008. While Domenech and Escalettes were grilled this week by a parliamentary committee about the World Cup disaster, that meeting took place behind closed doors. Domenech still hasn't given a full public explanation. Lawmakers who heard the former coach speak in the private session said he largely blamed the media for the team's divisions. But Escalettes insisted that Domenech apologized ``with a lot of humility.''

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