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Archive for France

Newsline: France’s top diplomat says more citizens held in Iran

Two more French citizens are likely being held in Iran, taking the total of its nationals detained there to seven, France’s foreign minister said in remarks published on Saturday. France lashed out at Iran on Oct. 6 accusing it of “dictatorial practices” and taking its citizens hostage after a video was aired in which a French couple appeared to confess to spying, after weeks of unrest that Iran has linked to foreign foes. “We have concerns over two other citizens. We are trying to check the contradictory information,” Catherine Colonna told Le Parisien newspaper in an interview. (https://wsau.com/2022/11/12/two-more-french-citizens-likely-held-in-iran-foreign-minister/) On Friday, Le Figaro newspaper reported that the two nationals had been arrested prior to the start of anti-government protests in September over the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. The foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Newsline: French police arrest Azerbaijani embassy attacker

Police in France have arrested an attacker on the Azerbaijani embassy in Paris, Azernews reported. Police in Paris arrested Loris Toufanian, the former chairman of the youth branch of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation of the Dashnaktsutyun in France, who in 2015 became one of the founders of the dissident group Charjoum. The arrest is likely due to a violent protest against the Azerbaijani embassy’s cultural center. (https://www.azernews.az/karabakh/201114.html) In September this year, an Armenian radical group attacked the cultural center of the Azerbaijani embassy in Paris. Armenians outside the building threw paint at the cultural center and were only removed from the scene by the police intervention.

Newsline: French Embassy in Burkina Faso attacked after coup

The French Embassy in Burkina Faso’s capital was attacked on Saturday after supporters of the West African nation’s new coup leader accused France of harboring the ousted interim president, a charge French authorities vehemently denied. Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba was overthrown late Friday only nine months after he’d mounted a coup himself in Burkina Faso, which has been failing to effectively counter rising violence by Islamic extremists. Comments by a new junta spokesman earlier Saturday set into motion an outburst of anger in Ouagadougou, the capital. Damiba’s whereabouts remained unknown but France’s Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded statement: “We formally deny involvement in the events unfolding in Burkina Faso. The camp where the French forces are based has never hosted Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba nor has our embassy.” (https://www.mprnews.org/story/2022/10/01/protesters-attack-french-embassy-in-burkina-faso-after-coup) Video on social media showed residents with lit torches outside the perimeter of the French embassy.

Newsline: French President slammed for “disastrous” diplomacy on Ukraine

Diplomatic efforts by French President Emmanuel Macron in response to the war in Ukraine were a failure and “deeply harmful” for Kyiv, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former NATO secretary-general, said in an interview published on Friday. “It was not a success”, Rasmussen, a former Danish prime minister who was one of the world’s most-senior diplomats until he left the transatlantic defence alliance in 2014, told French magazine Le Point. “Macron astonished us at the beginning of the crisis with his, to say the least, unique and critical statement that Putin should not be humiliated and offered an exit ramp. Such statements were disastrous and deeply harmful”, he added. (https://news.yahoo.com/former-nato-boss-slams-macron-133723455.html) His comments come after criticism, especially in eastern Europe, about how Macron kept an open line with Russian President Vladimir Putin with direct phone calls even after the invasion of Ukraine and has warned against ‘humiliating’ Russia. The French presidential office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Newsline: Pakistani protesters call for French ambassador to be expelled from country

Thousands of supporters of a radical Islamist party in Pakistan continued to protest over depictions of the Prophet Muhammad in France that they deem blasphemous. They were angered by remarks made by French President Emmanuel Macron in the wake of the murder of French teacher Samuel Paty. Macron defended the freedom of expression to produce the cartoons and attacked “Islamist separatism”. The protesters in Pakistan — supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party — called for the expulsion of the French ambassador in Islamabad. They also want to cut diplomatic relations with France and withdraw their ambassador from the country. Muhammad Latif, a protester at the event in Islamabad, said: “We love our prophet, we will give our life for the respect and honour of Prophet Muhammad, we will give our life but can’t accept the French ambassador’s presence here.” (https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/16/pakistani-protesters-call-for-french-ambassador-to-be-expelled-from-country) The sit-in, which has continued at an important intersection, started unplanned at the end of a protest march from Rawalpindi led by TLP chief Khadim Hussain Rizvi, despite resistance by police on Sunday night. TLP supporters defied the security arrangements of police and the administration and clashed with security forces at different points on the way to the Faizabad intersection.

Newsline: Ex-Vatican ambassador to France goes on trial on sexual molestation charges

The Vatican’s former ambassador to France goes on trial in Paris on Tuesday accused of molesting four men in the latest sex scandal to rock the Roman Catholic church. Prosecutors opened an investigation after a junior official at Paris City Hall accused papal nuncio Luigi Ventura, then 74, of molestation in January 2019, and city authorities filed a complaint to the Paris prosecutor. (https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-france-religion-trial/ex-vatican-ambassador-to-france-goes-on-trial-on-sexual-molestation-charges-idUKKBN27Q1B5) Ventura’s lawyer has denied the allegations. The Vatican last year lifted Ventura’s diplomatic immunity and he resigned from his post in December. A Paris City Hall official told Reuters last year that in January 2019, during Mayor Anne Hidalgo’s New Year address, Ventura caressed the junior official’s buttocks repeatedly. Since then, three other men have come forward with similar allegations. Jade Dousselin, a lawyer for one of the men, a City Hall community manager who was 39 at the time, said her client had been molested in 2018. Ventura was papal envoy in France from 2008 to 2019, following postings in several African countries and in Canada.

Newsline: French Embassy Asks Russia To Beef Up All Missions’ Security

The French Embassy asked Russia to beef up the security of all French diplomatic missions in the country, after rallies in front of embassies and an attack on a consulate in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, the embassy told Sputnik on Friday. The embassy said it had alerted the Russian authorities to increased risks for the country’s diplomats in light of recent events. (https://www.urdupoint.com/en/world/french-embassy-asks-russia-to-beef-up-all-mis-1071745.html) A day earlier, people came to a French Embassy in Moscow to protest the Muhammad caricatures that were published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo. One of the protesters was holding a banner with criticism against French President Emmanuel Macron.

Newsline: Saudi man arrested in Jeddah after knife attack on guard at French consulate

A Saudi man was arrested in the Red Sea city of Jeddah after attacking and wounding a security guard with a “sharp tool” at the French consulate on Thursday, local police said. A statement from the Mecca region’s police said the guard suffered “minor injuries” and that “legal action” was being taken against the perpetrator. The French Embassy said the consulate was subject to an “attack by knife which targeted a guard”, adding the guard was taken to hospital and his life was not in danger. “The French Embassy strongly condemns this attack against a diplomatic outpost which nothing could justify,” it said in a statement. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-saudi/saudi-man-arrested-in-jeddah-after-knife-attack-on-guard-at-french-consulate-idUSKBN27E1QB) The attack occurred after a knife-wielding man shouting “Allahu Akbar” beheaded a woman and killed two other people in the French city of Nice earlier in the day. Nice’s mayor described the attack as terrorism. France is still reeling from the beheading earlier this month of a school teacher by a man of Chechen origin. The attacker had said he wanted to punish the teacher for showing pupils cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in a civics lesson. Since Samuel Paty’s killing, French officials have reasserted the right to display the cartoons as a matter of free expression, and the images have been widely displayed at marches in solidarity with the teacher. That has stirred anger in parts of the Muslim world, with some governments accusing French President Emmanuel Macron of pursuing an anti-Islam agenda. Saudi Arabia on Tuesday condemned cartoons offending the Prophet Mohammad, but held back from echoing calls by other Muslim states for action against images of the Prophet being shown in France.

Newsline: Turkey summons French charge d’affaires over caricatures in Charlie Hebdo weekly

Turkey summoned the French charge d’affaires on Wednesday over caricatures published in Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine, a statement by Turkish foreign ministry said. The cartoon on the cover of Charlie Hebdo showed Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants, holding a canned drink along with a woman wearing an Islamic hijab. Turkish officials described it as a “disgusting effort”. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-turkey-summons/turkey-summons-french-charge-daffaires-over-caricatures-in-charlie-hebdo-weekly-idUSKBN27D2RK) France and Turkey have been at loggerheads over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, after a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech was beheaded in France this month. Muslims consider any depiction of the Prophet as blasphemy.

Newsline: Pakistan’s parliament urges to recall ambassador from France

Pakistan’s parliament on Monday passed a resolution urging the government to recall its envoy from Paris over the publication of images of the Prophet Mohammad in France, accusing President Emmanuel Macron of “hate-mongering” against Muslims. The National Assembly resolution, which is non-binding, came hours after the French ambassador in Islamabad was summoned to the foreign office for Pakistan to register its protest. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-security-pakistan/pakistans-parliament-urges-government-to-withdraw-envoy-from-france-idUSKBN27B2BO) The developments were the latest expression of anger in the Muslim world over France displaying images of the Prophet Mohammad that Muslims consider blasphemous. The resolution expressed “serious concern at the highly disturbing statements and hate-mongering, specially by leaders like President Macron, justifying unlawful provocation and insult to the sentiments of more than a billion Muslims”. The resolution also urged the government to ask other Muslim countries to boycott French products.