Sunday song, funny side of election

14 Apr

“They tell me that Francois has his fly open, (ooooh!!!)
That if Nicolas loses he will retire (noooo!!!),

Blabla Halal you are  blablabla Halal.”

Who dares to mock with Nicolas Sarkozy,  the fly of Hollande and a highly sensitive topic, halal  ?

On You Tube, on the channel nakoneczny3, an energetic duo posts, every Sunday, a new song. And this is not a band funded by National or Left Front to make fun of the presidential favorites.

Their name is  Sunday song  (La chanson du dimanche).  Founded in 2007, in the manner of  French chansonniers the pair puts together many different musical styles to sing about various topics:  from love, GMO (GMO man, you make the water that isn’t wet, you make women that don’t die…) to purchasing power (If  I  had  a high purchasing power … I would buy a flat screen/ My life would be so much easier) and, of course, politics.
In their recent tune, Blabla Halal, the duo sings about the heated debate over Halal meat as an example of the insignificant issues that are taking over the presidential campaign.

Even though Clément Marchand (guitar & vocals) and Alexandre Castagnetti (keyboard & vocals), didn’t want to focus on politics from the beginning, the 2007 presidential campaign gave them enough  song  material. Back then, they sang about Nicolas Sarkozy and Rachida Dati  (Hold me tight, Nicolas,Rachida/Hold me in your arms, Nicolas,Rachida/I need you Nicolas, Rachida/You’re there for me, Nicolas, that’s love) and about voting options  (If you vote for a fascist, you vote Sarkozy/ You vote trivial, you vote Royal/ You vote for the hatred, you vote le Pen, you vote for  the wimp, you vote Bayrou)

Initially a mere funny experiment, Sunday song became quite popular in France through the video-sharing and social networks web sites-now they are on Facebook, My Space , Twitter and Sound Cloud– and their analyze the current French presidential elections.

With humor, sometimes bitter,  always ironic, they tackle social themes in „Money people (“Peuple de l’argent), talking about the „exile of the rich, fleeing France, scared by tax threats from presidential candidates,  or in “Quinquennial”  joking about the five-year presidential term of the candidate-president Nicolas Sarkozy, represented in the song as a….student.

„You didn’t do your homework, Nicolas?/ -I didn’t have time, we have too much homework!/-You have to work more, mate.” 

Even though they don’t explicitly support any of the candidates, it is quite easy to guess that they won’t attack Left front in their songs. Last month they performed as part of a gig at a Paris rally for far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon. Moreover, in the middle of two election turns, Sunday song  play a live show on the 3rd May in Bataclan. Tickets are sold for 19 euros for the registered voters, for those who can’t vote-minors or strangers- and for all the Jean-Lucs.

It must be comforting for Jean-Luc Mélenchon to know that, even if he doesn’t get to the second election turn, he gets a free entry to the concert.

What you believe is what you vote.

14 Apr

Tell me what’s your religion, I’ll tell you who will you vote for.  Even in a secular state like France, where laïcité is a part of Constitution and religion kept out of the public sphere and politics, voting intentions based on religion still exist.

Photo credit: Flickr/CC/phoenixdiaz

Catholics vote right

At 57.2%-of which 14% practicing- Catholics make up the majority of voters in France. The survey found that the outgoing president, Nicolas Sarkozy would expect to get 28% of the Catholic vote, while his rival, François Hollande would only get 25%.

Catholic voters are probably seduced by a moderate conservative right, which represents to them  a guarantee of family values, refusal of euthanasia and gay marriage. Furthermore, Nicolas Sarkozy doesn’t miss the opportunity to woo catholic voters, praising the „Christian heritage of France“. At the same time, the Catholics these days seem to be more willing to vote for National front.  Is Marine le Pen more popular than her father Jean-Marie le Pen? She surely made the National Front vote more sexy for Catholics, because the voting intentions expressed in the first round give her 13% of the Catholic vote.

Even though the Church doesn’t give any “guidelines” for voting, last October a collection of some speeches made by Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, the Archbishop of Paris and President was published. It his recent publication, Quelle société voulons-nous? (“What society do we want?”), he says no indication is given as to the vote, but he focuses on the defense of life and of the traditional family.

And let’s not forget about the Civitas movement, closely allied to the Society of  St Pius, that seeks to strengthen the traditional Catholic right and publishes regularly, on the website of the associations, articles against Francois Hollande, threat for a Catholic community.

Muslims vote  left

If  Francois Hollande can’t count on Catholics’ votes, he can surely be happy about the 85% of Muslim voters that would chose him as their candidate for the second election turn.

Traditionally on the left, the Muslim vote will definitely stay that way after the Sarkozy’s  laws  on burqua and the rightification of his politics, with its focus on immigration, radical Islam and Muslim mores.  The tensions rose especially after the tragic bloodshed in Toulouse and the Sarkozy’s ban of  some imams from entering France to the conference organized by the Union of French Islamic Organizations (UOIF).  Of course, Marine le Pen stays the enemy number 1 of Muslim voters because of her pronounced anti-immigration and often anti-Islam discourse.

Religious vote obviously does exist. But even if we count in the Protestants and Jewish voters (which, long close to socialist party tend to move to the right), the religious voters represent merely 30% of electorate. Not enough to decide on the final election result.

The next French president ? Let’s take a peek at a crystal ball.

30 Mar

You don’t have to be superstitious to consult a psychic. Neither to go to the lost parts of the town to find them in the small smoky tents. The crystal ball is right here, on the web!

Photo credit : Flickr/CC/eschipul

According to the French newspapers, one poll a day, keeps the suspense away. Everyday, depending on the poll, you can find out if  the presidential hopeful François Hollande is ahead-or not- of the current president Nicolas Sarkozy, that Melenchon is rising, Bayrou  falling and so on.

However, if you are more curious, you might want to goggle « Qui sera le nouveau président français? » (Who will be the next French president?) and enjoy the psychics’ explications.

Newspaper France Soir already asked Monsieur Olivier (if you can’t meet him personally, on his website , you can find sms consultations and hotline number !) who saw François Hollande as a new head of the state, facing Marine Le Pen in the second round of presidential elections.

And he was not the only one: my predictions for France in 2012 blog sees Marine le Pen in the second round, without affirming explicitly if she will win the elections and who will be her opponents.  Nicolas Duquerroy, “your psychic and magnetic healer”, agrees with the recent poll results (Sarkozy and Hollande as two presidential favorites9, but predicts the re-election of Nicolas Sarkozy.

Just as the polls,  predictions seem to change on everyday basis. And you know what? From now on you  can participate in the debate. A site called “Journal de demain” (Tomorrow’s newspaper) publishes predictions of  “Journalisme d’intuition” (Journalism of intuition).  If you have visions- whether you are a professional or an amateur- you can publish your predictions on their website. You don’t even have to be French: predicting the future is beyond every national border.

Do you have a Muslim appearance?

30 Mar

Muslim appearance (Musulman d’apparence).  Expression coined by French president Nicolas Sarkozy, the 26 March, to designate the person who physically looks like a Muslim. The expression became instantly the trending topic on Twitter.

I remind you that they were Muslims or at least they were of  Muslim appearance since one of them was actually Catholic, said  French president in a radio interview with public radio station France Info, referring to confusion over the origins of the soldiers gunned down in Toulouse and Montauban.

Instantly, this claim unleashed the torrent of Twitter comments with as a trending topic #Musulmandapparence (#OfMuslimappearance) and thousands of people criticizing Sarkozy and questioning the idea of a physical look to identify Muslims.

A Green party politician, Cécile Duflot commented: “So Sarkozy actually said ‘Muslim-looking’ … When will it stop?

One Twitter user asked:  Are the bearded hipsters also of  Muslim appearance?

So what did Nicolas Sarkozy want to say? First of all he probably used the expression more out of clumsiness than anything else.

At the same time, he just repeated, probably unconsciously, some of the stereotypes about Muslims: they are bearded, they wear hats and veils and they are all Arab (by the way, according to a 2012 Pew institute study, Indonesia is the country with the world’s largest Muslim population, 205 million people.  Would you say that they have a « Muslim appearance?!)

He is probably not the only one to make such a language blunder. However, as a president-candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy should have known that the religious affiliation doesn’t’ shown in the facial features of a person. If it were, he too could become a Muslim, with a little help of  Photoshop.

"Of a Muslim appearance", a caricature of a French president Nicolas Sarkozy with the mustache, imitating ironically his presidential poster.

They won’t vote. It’s the end of the world anyway.

23 Mar

While French presidential campaign is heating and reheating, the small community of Bugarash stays protected from the presidential lobbying.  And more. If we all dissappear after the December 21st, they will be the ones laughing at this post.

The next French president will be the head of state for seven months only: according to an interpretation of ancient Mayan calendar, at some point towards the end of 2012, the world will come to an end. At least people from all around the world coming to Bugarash, a small village in the south of France, near the Pyrenees, believe that.

A garage for the UFOs, the peak of Bugarach, emanating the mystical energy, is allegedly the only one to be standing after the 21th of  December 2012.

Local population generally isn’t thrilled to see hundreds of tourists coming to their little town, chanting and performing sacred rituals. However, Miviludes, French Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Combating Cultic Deviances, a French government agency is worried more about potentially dangerous doomsday sects that might benefit from the situation, extorting money from naive apocalyptic believers.

For the moment, the town is under Mivilude’s surveillance.

One of the tales on Bugarach circulating on the internet says that  the late President François Mitterrand was curiously heliported onto the peak of the mountain.

An idea for the future French president: moving the Elysée on top of the “sacred mountain“ of Bugarach.

Toulouse drama gives religious fuel to presidential campaign

23 Mar

The dramatic killings that took place in the South of  France this week might change the face of the French presidential campaign.

Find out more on Storify (follow the link to discover the whole story)

Halal quest

17 Mar

After a heating debate on Halal products that was going on between French politicians last week (Marine Le Pen saying halal meat is on the plate of non-Muslim French, Nicolas Sarkozy claiming that the halal meat is “the issue which most preoccupies the French”), one would think Halal invasion is going on in France. Since I wasn’t able to take an insight look on the halal production and distribution in the Ile-de-France region, I decided to take a look at the nearest supermarket shelves to check the halal offer. And you know what? If I were a halal only consumer, I would stay (meat) hungry in my neighborhood.

Click on the link below to take a look at my search for halal products!

Sarkozy and Muslim community: he loves them, he loves them not

16 Mar

Nicolas Sarkozy in the Paris mosque? You must be joking.

No. Here is the picture (if you don’t believe me, believe Le Monde that published it)

Nicolas Sarkozy seems to be confused.

In the past few weeks, one could think that the current French president/candidate at the upcoming presidential elections  Nicolas Sarkozy is not fond of Islam, considering the bitter halal polemics that took place  (see here and here).
Then, all of the sudden, he paid a visit to the heart of the Muslim community in Paris, the Great Mosque, to inaugurate a memorial to Muslim soldiers died fighting for France in the First World War. The visit was also the opportunity to assure the
mosque’s rector and the French Muslim Council leader, Mohammed Moussaoui. “Our compatriots of the Muslim religion that they naturally have the right to follow their faith as any other citizen has the right to follow his religion”, affirmed the president”.

The religion he was talking about wasn’t his main preoccupation during the last five years of his presidency, of course, but he spent quite a lot of time trying to limit the freedom he was passionately talking about on Wednesday, 14 March.
In the 2010 the Islamic veil was banned from the public spaces, which provoked various reactions of Muslim –and not only-community and caused the massive protests all over the country. 2011 was marked by the his comments on multiculturalism’s failure and a debate on the Islam’s place in France. Indeed, as we could see, have become a one of key campaign themes in the wake of controversies — largely fed by the far-right — from the face veils, Muslims praying in the street to the most recent halal products.

Will one visit be enough to win back the trust of Muslim voters? Surely not, especially if Nicolas Sarkozy intends to court the voters of Marine Le Pen’s Far-right Party.

Halal meat: a hot-button issue of presidentail campaign

9 Mar

National Front leader Martine Le Pen launched the debate in February.  In her speech in Lille, the Front National presidential candidate Marine Le Pen said “all the abattoirs in Ile-de-France sell halal”, meat slaughtered the “Muslim way”, adding  that this was being done unknown by the consumer.

Although it turned out the slaugherhouses mostly supplied local Muslim butchers and most meat sold in Paris came from further away, the halal meat is on the campaign menu of almost every presidential candidate.

With the French Prime Minister François Fillon saying recently that  “Religions should rethink about keeping traditions that don’t have much in common with today’s state of science, technology and health problems,”  to Europe1 radio, it seems that halal is the meat that feeds this presidential campaign.

But what is really Halal? 

Photo credit: Mikael Colville-Andersen

Halal in Arabic means „permissible“. In the terms of food, it would mean that the food is permissible to Islamic law. The following can’t be consumed: pork or pork by products, animals that were dead prior to slaughtering, animals not slaughtered properly, blood and blood by products, alcohol carnivorous animals, birds of prey, land animals without external ears. Halal certification is an assurance that a product has been thoroughly vetted and found to conform with Islamic Dietary Laws.  In France main Halal certifying agency are The Grande Mosque of Paris and the Mosque of Evry.

How is halal meat different from “ordinary meat”?

Halal meat means that the animal is slaughtered properly. That means that Allah’s name must be pronounced during slaughter, the instrument has to be very sharp severing the windpipe, jugular vein and carotid artery (slit at the throat, while its head is pointed in direction of Mecca). The animal must be hung upside down in order to bleed dry because blood is not halal. This kind of slaughter is accomplished by a Muslim or by the “People of the Book” (Christian or Jew). Many observers find kosher meat, that  acceptable.   Non-religious butchers on the contrary stun the animal first, saying this lessens pain.

Why Muslims don’t eat pork?

Pork belongs to the category of Haraam, an Arabic term meaning “forbidden”. In Islam it is used to refer to anything that is prohibited by the word of Allah. It is the Qu’ran which draws the distinction between the Haraam and Halal food, and the swine is believed not to be clean, thus Haraam. Furthermore, a swine cannot be slaughtered at the neck due to its anatomy (see Halal slaughetring).

Riposte laïque: when secularism strikes back

9 Mar

Riposte laïque (Secular riposte)  is a web site founded in 2007, that claims defending the ideas of secularism without belonging to any political party or faction. Even though one of its founders, Pierre Cassen, is a former Trotskyist, some of the contributors have more right background. Moreover, some of site contributors seem to be tightly-bounded to Bloc identitaire, a French political movement belonging to the far-right political milieu. Majority of their articles focalizes on Islamic threat, these days especially on the halal meat polemics.

CC: Riposte laïque site

Robert Albarèdes is one of the most active contributors on the site Riposte laïque.  Politically active for more than 30 years, he if one of the site co-founders. Nowadays that retired literature professor “cultivates his garden” (reference to Voltaire’s Candide that he appreciates a lot is not random) in his house in Provence and writes for Riposte laïque on the topics he is passionate about. For him, as well as for the other site contributors, secularism is a French national symbol.

1. Could you say that there is an opinion proper to the whole team of Riposte laïque?

Riposte laïque is a free media, in the way that every contributor is personally responsible of his content; we don’t have a common policy. However, we have a common idea that unites us all, and that is the secularism and its importance in the French society. Except for that, our contributors, permanent or freelance, can be from the far-right or the far-left party, nobody cares. We are all different, each one of us has different sensibilitie and idea about politics. Yet, our writing about the secularism issues isn’t positioned on the right or the left angle of political scene.

2. In your opinion, what would be the biggest issue related to secularism at the 2012 presidential election?

Secularism is one of the pillars of our society. It’s a connection between the different layers of society and it should be threaten as equally important as crisis, unemployment or European integration. We consider that today there is an interior and an exterior threat to secularism, the first one coming from the religions inside our country, the second one from European institutions. I think that the “importation of Islam” in France by immigration  is a way to destroy secularism , to abolish the 1905 law and prepare the field for the European federalism that will reintroduce the Churches in the public sphere. Yet, the candidates apparently don’t think that secularism is that important these days.

3. What do you mean by that?

My personal opinion is that the candidates are using the concept of secularism in a completely random and inappropriate way. Moreover, their proposals are anti-secular, especially in the cases of Mr. Hollande or Mr. Sarkozy. They manipulate public opinion. These two biggest parties want to eradicate the secular system. Secularism, shouldn’t be misused in that way.

I find that Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (leader of the party Arise the Republic, former fraction  within the ruling Sarkozy’s party) and Madame Marine le Pen have the most coherent proposals on secularism. My opinion is based on statements written on their websites or pronounced during their public speeches. However, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (leader of Left Front) and Nathalie Arthaud-leader of Workers’ Struggle , a party with a long secular tradition-also defend the concept of secularism.

4. Riposte laique has been often criticized for its authors’ radical opinions on Islam and immigration. What is your response to this kind of criticism?

On the site, we defend firmly our positions on secularism. Of course, that provoked a strong reaction of those who don’t agree with us. Let me recall you that Rousseau and Voltaire were also criticized in their time because of their positions. The freedom if speech if one of the fundamental human rights. That means that we accept to be criticized, but we also give ourselves the right to criticize the others. That is a democratic debate that takes place on the internet.