France’s Macron Free From COVID-19 Symptoms

 In this file photo taken on August 26, 2020 French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a face mask, looks on as he waits for Senegal's President to arrive for their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Ludovic Marin / AFP
In this file photo taken on August 26, 2020 French President Emmanuel Macron, wearing a face mask, looks on as he waits for Senegal’s President to arrive for their meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris. Ludovic Marin / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron is free of Covid-19 symptoms, his office said on Thursday, a week after he tested positive for the coronavirus.

The president, who was in self-isolation at an official residence near Paris from where he ran meetings remotely, no longer needs to remain in quarantine, the Elysee Palace added.

Macron “shows no symptoms a this stage”, the statement said, and “the isolation of the President can therefore end after seven days”.

Macron had remained in charge “of the main issues of current affairs of our country” during his self-isolation, and would continue to do so in the coming hours and days, it said.

READ ALSO: China Suspends Flights From UK Over New COVID-19 Variant

Macron, who had tested positive for the virus last Thursday showing symptoms of fatigue, coughing and muscle aches, promised daily updates on his health.

His office reported “signs of improvement” for the first time on Wednesday, having in previous statements described the 43-year old president’s condition as “stable”.

The French authorities are concerned that the Christmas holiday period could see a new spike in infections, after the country’s total Covid death toll rose to nearly 62,000 this week.

Authorities said late Wednesday that nearly 15,000 new cases had been reported in the previous 24 hours, and 278 new deaths.

A vaccination campaign is to start on Sunday, with health workers and older people among the first to get jabs, the government said.

The EU gave the green light for the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine on Monday, paving the way for the first inoculations to start across 27 countries soon after Christmas.

The French HAS health authority on Thursday cleared the vaccine for use in France.

 

AFP

Trump Wishes Macron Quick Recovery From COVID-19

Macron, Trump In Show Of Unity After Row Over Europe's Defence
US President Donald Trump (2L) addresses French President’s wife Brigitte Macron (R) as he shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (2R) next to US First Lady Melania Trump at the Elysee Palace in Paris on November 10, 2018. ludovic MARIN / AFP

 

US President Donald Trump has spoken with French President Emmanuel Macron to wish him a quick recovery from the coronavirus, the White House said Friday.

In the conversation, which the White House said took place Thursday, Trump “wished President Macron a speedy recovery and quick return to his full duties,” spokesman Judd Deere said.

“President Trump also extended his best wishes for a Merry Christmas to President Macron, his family, and the People of France,” the statement said.

READ ALSO: US Vice President Pence Receives COVID-19 Vaccine

Earlier, Macron said in a video message that he was experiencing several Covid symptoms including “tiredness, headaches, dry cough,” and that his activity was “slowed down.”

Along with Macron, Trump is among a group of several world leaders to have been infected with the novel coronavirus. In his case, he required three days of hospitalization and supplemental oxygen to breathe at the start of October.

 

AFP

Macron ‘Very Shocked’ By Images Of Police Beating Black Music Producer

Photo Credit: BFMTV

 

French President Emmanuel Macron is “very shocked” by the images of a black music producer being beaten by police in Paris, a presidential official said on Friday, as pressure grows over the incident.

Macron Thursday held talks with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin to call for tough punishments for those involved in the beating of Michel Zecler last weekend, a government source added.

More to follow . . 

Macron Criticizes Media Over Coverage Of Islamic Extremism

France To Extend Lockdown As Virus Deaths Soar In Europe, US

Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron has called The New York Times media correspondent to criticize English-language coverage of France’s stance on Islamic extremism after recent attacks, arguing it amounts to “legitimizing” violence.

“When France was attacked five years ago, every nation in the world supported us,” Macron told Ben Smith in comments published in the latter’s Sunday column.

“So when I see, in that context, several newspapers which I believe are from countries that share our values… when I see them legitimizing this violence, and saying that the heart of the problem is that France is racist and Islamophobic, then I say the founding principles have been lost.”

In his column about their exchange, Smith said the French president had argued “foreign media failed to understand ‘laicite,'” or secularism, a pillar of French policy and society.

Domestic support for a firm line on the need for immigrants to embrace French values is stronger than ever since the grisly beheading last month of teacher Samuel Paty, who showed his pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in a lesson on free speech.

While paying tribute to the slain man, Macron defended France’s strict brand of secularism and its long tradition of satire.

“We will not give up cartoons,” he vowed.

He reiterated his point in an interview with Le Grand Continent in which he stated that, despite his respect for different cultures, “I am not going to change our laws because they shock elsewhere.”

“The fight of our generation in Europe will be a combat for our freedoms,” Macron said, adding that he believed they were being “overturned”.

His views have been called into question not just in angry protests across Islamic countries — many of which have called for boycotts of French products — but also by English-language newspapers and even international political allies.

The Financial Times published a piece by a correspondent that was titled “Macron’s war on ‘Islamic separatism’ only divides France further.”

The paper later took down the column, citing factual errors.

Defending France’s stance in a letter to the FT in which he denied stigmatizing Muslims, Macron wrote: “France — we are attacked for this — is as secular for Muslims as for Christians, Jews, Buddhists and all believers

-AFP

‘Let’s Work Together’: France’s Macron Congratulates Biden

French President Emmanuel Macron chairs a video conference with foreign compagnies executives on November 6, 2020 at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris, as part of a "mini choose France" forum, designed to attract more foreign businesses. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP
French President Emmanuel Macron chairs a video conference with foreign compagnies executives on November 6, 2020 at the Elysee presidential Palace in Paris, as part of a “mini choose France” forum, designed to attract more foreign businesses. Ludovic MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

French President Emmanuel Macron on Saturday congratulated US president-elect Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris on their election victory.

“We have a lot to do to overcome today’s challenges. Let’s work together!” Macron tweeted, in French and English, after major US media networks announced Biden’s victory over incumbent Donald Trump.

Macron has never met Biden, who will in January become the 46th president of the United States.

 

France under Macron is keen for Europe to move away from its reliance on US military might, for defence in particular.

Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Thursday reinforced recent statements from Paris that the nature of US-EU relations had permanently changed under Trump.

Europe needs to build a “new trans-atlantic relationship, which is a new partnership” irrespective of who wins, he said then.

“We cannot go back to the status quo ante, to a kind of good old days in the trans-atlantic relationship,” as Europe affirms its sovereignty in security, defence and strategic autonomy, Le Drian added.

Apart from the far right, the French political class generally hailed Biden’s victory at the polls, which saw him win more votes than any other US president in history.

Former French president Francois Hollande, who was in office when Trump came to power in 2016, welcomed the “good news for American democracy”.

Biden has promised to return the United States to the Paris Climate Agreement after Trump pulled out of it.

Hollande hailed the “happy news for the planet with the return of United States in the climate agreement”.

 

AFP

France Honours Slain Teacher As School Resumes

An activist of Hindu Sena, a rightwing Hindu group, offers a prayer for French history teacher Samuel Paty, who was killed by an extremist in Paris, during a demonstration to show their support for France in New Delhi on October 30, 2020.
Jewel SAMAD / AFP

 

France on Monday honoured the teacher beheaded in front of his school by a suspected Islamist radical in a murder that shocked the country, as millions of students returned to classes after the autumn break.

Schoolchildren across France were to observe a minute of silence at 11:00 am (1000 GMT) to remember Samuel Paty, who was killed in Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, outside Paris, on October 16 just as the holiday began.

Paty had shown his class a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed for a lesson on freedom of expression, spurring an online campaign targeting him. His killing further set France on edge as President Emmanuel Macron spearheads a campaign against Islamist radicalism.

On Thursday morning, three people were knifed to death in a church in the southern city of Nice in another strike the government described as an act of “Islamist” terror.

“I know your emotion after the terrorist attacks, including one in front of a school against a teacher,” Macron said in a message to pupils on his Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook social media channels.

“Today, in class, you will pay homage to Samuel Paty. We will all think of him, you and your teachers,” he said, adding: “The plan of terrorism is to manufacture hatred.”

Prosecutors say Paty was beheaded by an 18-year-old Chechen man, Abdullakh Anzorov, who was killed by police.

Prime Minister Jean Castex was also due to travel to Conflans-Sainte-Honorine to pay his respects to Paty alongside Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer.

Schools in France reopen with the country at maximum terror alert and parents told not to linger at school gates after dropping off their children.

Macron has vowed to defend the right to freedom of speech and that France will never renounce caricatures, after the furore created in the Muslim word by the republication of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in September by the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.

The stabbing rampage in Nice is suspected to have been carried out by Brahim Issaoui, a 21-year-old who arrived in Europe from Tunisia in September. He remains in serious condition in hospital after police shot him.

Charlie Hebdo republished the cartoons to mark the start of the trial of suspected accomplices in the 2015 massacre of its staff by Islamist gunmen. The trial was Sunday delayed for at least a week after three defendants tested positive for coronavirus.

-AFP

France’s Macron Ready To Meet Belarus Opposition Leader

 

President Emmanuel Macron is ready to hold talks with Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who has requested he act as a mediator in her country’s crisis, a French government spokesman said on Monday.

“What’s happening in Belarus is a crisis of power, an authoritarian power that is unable to accept the logic of democracy,” Gabriel Attal said, adding that Macron would meet Tikhanovskaya “if she asks” during a visit to Lithuania, where she has fled.

Belarus has been in turmoil since protests broke out last month after Tikhanovskaya lost to President Alexander Lukashenko in a vote she denounced as rigged.

The opposition leader, whose blogger husband remains in a Belarus prison, also called for EU sanctions against businesses that support Lukashenko’s government.

“The protests are not going to stop,” Tikhanovskaya told AFP in an interview. “People will not accept the regime under which they have lived all these years.”

Ahead of Macron’s visit to Vilnius, he told the Journal du Dimanche newspaper it was “clear that Lukashenko has to go”, adding that he had been impressed by the courage of the protesters.

“They know the risks they are taking by demonstrating every weekend, and yet, they are pushing forward with the movement to make democracy come alive in this country that has been deprived of it for so long,” he said.

AFP

Macron Opponents Claim Victory In France Senate Poll

File photo: French President Emmanuel Macron delivers his speech during a press conference in Beirut on August 6, 2020, two days after a massive explosion devastated the Lebanese capital.  Thibault Camus / POOL / AFP.

 

The right-wing opposition on Monday claimed victory in elections for France’s upper house, underlining the political struggles of the centrist ruling party of President Emmanuel Macron.

The Senate’s members are not directly elected by voters, but instead by tens of thousands of local councillors who are themselves elected by the people.

After Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party performed woefully in local elections earlier this year, it was never expected to make any significant impact in the Senate vote.

While the chamber has some authority, especially over constitutional issues, it lacks the power of the National Assembly lower house, which has been controlled by LREM since 2017.

Nevertheless, the leader of the right-wing Republicans Christian Jacob told France Inter radio: “We have renewed ourselves with this victory.”

The party claimed to have upped its Senate seats by 10 to 154 in the 348-seat chamber.

The election showed that the opposition is not complacent, said Bruno Retailleau, head of the Republicans in the Senate.

However, because of the volatile nature of political affiliation in the Senate, the full breakdown will probably only become clear on Thursday when it meets to elect its speaker.

The poll — held every three years for half the chamber’s seats — was not a disaster for the LREM, which was expected to hold on to its current 23 members.

Meanwhile, the Greens said they expected to return at least 10 senators and the Socialist Party was expected to lose some seats but maintain its status as the second biggest faction.

But the health of LREM, and in particular its failure to put down roots at the local level, is a growing headache for Macron as he prepares to seek re-election in 2022.

Roughly two dozen MPs defected from LREM to other groups earlier this year, robbing the party of its overall majority, although the make-up of the National Assembly means it can still pass legislation.

AFP

Macron Party Braces For New Setback In Senate Polls

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a statement as he arrives for a European Union Council in Brussels on July 17, 2020, as the leaders of the European Union hold their first face-to-face summit over a post-virus economic rescue plan. (Photo by Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP)

 

President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist party braced on Sunday for a new setback in elections for France’s Senate upper house, where the right is expected to hold on to its majority.

French Senate members are not directly elected by voters, but instead by tens of thousands of local councillors who are themselves elected by the people.

After Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party performed woefully in the local elections earlier this year, it is not expected to make any significant impact in the Senate vote.

Senate elections take place every three years in France, with half of the chamber’s 348 seats at stake each time.

LREM, dogged by problems in recent months after successfully propelling Macron to the presidency in 2017 elections, currently only has 23 senators.

There is little chance their ranks will swell in Sunday’s polls, while Francois Patriat, the leader of LREM’s Senate group, could even lose his seat.

With 143 seats in the Senate, the right-wing Republicans are expected to keep control of the chamber and continue the historic dominance of the right in the Senate.

But a strong performance in the recent local elections could allow the Greens and Socialists to boost their presence.

While it has some authority especially over constitutional issues, the Senate lacks the power of the National Assembly lower house, which has been controlled by LREM since 2017 legislative elections soon after Macron won the presidency.

But the health of LREM, and in particular its failure to put down roots at the local level, is a growing headache for Macron as he prepares to seek relection in 2022.

Some two dozen MPs earlier this year defected from LREM to other groups, formally robbing the party of its overall majority, although the make-up of the National Assembly means it can still pass legislation.

The party’s number two Pierre Person told the Le Monde daily this month that he was stepping down from his executive post to “give the party a new lease of life”, saying it was in need of an “electric shock”.

AFP

Alarm For Macron As Deputy Party Chief Steps Down

France’s President Emmanuel Macron speaks during a meeting at Winfield House with US President Donald Trump in central London on December 3, 2019. NATO leaders gather Tuesday for a summit to mark the alliance’s 70th anniversary but with leaders feuding and name-calling over money and strategy, the mood is far from festive. LUDOVIC MARIN / POOL / AFP

 

The number two official in French President Emmanuel Macron’s ruling party on Monday stepped down, declaring the movement needed an “electric shock” after a string of electoral routs.

The health of Macron’s Republic on the Move (LREM) party, created for his successful 2017 presidential campaign, is a growing headache for the president as he prepares to seek relection in 2022.

The party’s number two Pierre Person, who will remain a member, told the Le Monde daily that he was stepping down from his executive post to “give the party a new breath”.

He said he wanted to create an “electric shock” as “cosmetic changes are not going to be enough”, with the party still stuck in its logic that dated from the 2017 presidential election campaign.

The resignation of Person, 31, a former leader of a LREM youth wing who came from the Socialist Party, comes after the party suffered a series of reverses at the ballot box.

Person was also reported to have tense relations with the number one party official Stanislas Guerini.

Local elections earlier this year were a disaster for the LREM, with the party failing to take control of a single major city hall.

More bad news came in six by-elections for vacant parliament seats at the weekend where no LREM candidate has made it to the second round.

Person said in the interview that the LREM “needs to have its own reason to exist” rather than just “copy and pasting the message of the government”.

Some two dozen MPs earlier this year defected from the LREM to other formations, formally robbing the party of its overall majority, although the make-up of the National Assembly lower house means it can still pass legislation.

Many analysts expect the 2022 elections to be a two-horse race between Macron and far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

And Macron has in the last months notably shifted the tone to the right, talking tough particularly on security and against Islamic extremism.

A cabinet reshuffle this July saw right-wingers Jean Castex and Gerald Darmanin appointed as prime minister and interior minister respectively. Both had originally come from the Republicans (LR) right-wing party.

AFP

Iran’s Khamenei Says Mohammed Cartoons ‘Unforgivable’

A handout picture released by the official website of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei shows him during a meeting with school and university students in the capital Tehran on November 3, 2019. Iran’s supreme leader again ruled out negotiations with Washington, a day before the 40th anniversary of the hostage crisis at the former US embassy in Tehran.
IRANIAN SUPREME LEADER’S WEBSITE / AFP

 

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said Tuesday that cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that were republished by a French satirical magazine last week were “unforgivable”.

“The grave and unforgivable sin committed by a French weekly in insulting the luminous and holy personality of (the) Prophet revealed, once more, the hostility and malicious grudge harboured by political and cultural organisations in the West against Islam and the Muslim community,” Khamenei said in an English-language statement.

“The excuse of ‘freedom of expression’ made by some French politicians in order not to condemn this grave crime of insulting the Holy Prophet of Islam is completely unacceptable, wrong, and demagogic.”

During a visit to Beirut last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said Charlie Hebdo had broken no law in republishing the cartoons to mark the September 2 opening of the trial into a deadly 2015 attack on its offices by Islamist extremists.

“There is… in France a freedom to blaspheme that is linked to freedom of conscience,” Macron said.

“It is my job to protect all these freedoms.”

Twelve people, including some of France’s most celebrated cartoonists, were killed on January 7, 2015, when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi went on a gun rampage at the magazine’s Paris offices.

The perpetrators were killed in the aftermath of the massacre but 14 alleged accomplices in the attacks, which also targeted a Jewish supermarket, went on trial.

Despite its outrage at the cartoons, Iran condemned the attack on the paper’s offices.

 

Supporters of hardline Islamist party Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan carry placards and shout slogans during a protest against the reprinting cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad by French magazine Charlie Hebdo, in Rawalpindi on September 4, 2020. – Satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, the target of a massacre by Islamist gunmen in 2015, reprinted the controversial caricatures this week to mark the start of the trial of the alleged accomplices in the attack. (Photo by Aamir QURESHI / AFP)

 

-AFP

Macron To Meet Embattled Ivory Coast Leader Friday

French President Emmanuel Macron makes a statement as he arrives for a European Union Council in Brussels on July 17, 2020, as the leaders of the European Union hold their first face-to-face summit over a post-virus economic rescue plan. Francisco Seco / POOL / AFP.

 

French President Emmanuel Macron will meet in Paris on Friday with his Ivory Coast counterpart Alassane Ouattara, whose surprise decision last month to seek a third term has thrown his country into turmoil.

France had welcomed the “historic decision” last March by Ouattara, 78, not to run for re-election, hoping the move would encourage other longstanding African leaders to embrace more democratic regimes.

But the death of his prime minister, who many say was poised to succeed him, prompted a reversal that has sparked weeks of deadly clashes between supporters of rival parties.

Macron has not commented publicly on Ouattara’s move, but a source in the French presidency said Thursday that his hope for a generational change in Ivory Coast remains firm.

On Monday, supporters of the country’s former president Laurent Gbagbo as well as Ouattara’s former ally Guillaume Soro both filed their candidacies in what will likely be tense elections next month.

The move came even though both Gbagbo and Soro had been barred by the electoral commission from running due to convictions in the country’s courts.

The crisis has revived fears of the fierce post-election violence that saw some 3,000 people killed ten years ago, when Gbagbo refused to recognise Ouattara’s election victory.

AFP