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France's Cynical Range from Hollande at Louvre to Araud in Council

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 18 -- The range of French governmental spin about xenophobia and Islam has been displayed in the last week.

  Today in Paris president Francois Hollande pledged love to Islamic art, at an opening at the Louvre.
  Later, one step down, foreign minister Laurent Fabius condemned the publication Charlie Hebdo, but noted that there are in France legal protections from freedom of the press.
  But at the UN last week, French ambassador Gerard Araud let it all hang out, multiple Security Council sources have told Inner City Press.

  During a closed-door discussion last week of a draft press statement on the killing of US diplomats in Benghazi against a backdrop of protests of an anti-Islam film, Araud said, as paraphrased to Inner City Press by four Council diplomats, that he likes and takes pride in the freedom to denigrate religion.

  One Security Council member told Inner City Press this was "outrageous" and "incitement."

  Another told Inner City Press, but then France should at least be consistent in being for free speech, because there are some kinds of speech they do not allow.

  A third questioned how much this reflects the position of France under Francois Hollande, as opposed to Nicolas Sarkozy, and how much it is "Araud, pure Araud."

  It has since been said to Inner City Press, "Araud is from the Sarkozy era, that's why he said August was his last Council presidency."  We'll see.

  We noted that France has positioned itself with the opposition in Libya, particularly in Benghazi then air dropping weapons into the Nafusa mountains, and now in Syria, where even the founder of MSF from Paris has said half of the fighters he treated in Aleppo were, to put it diplomatically, armed opponents of such films.

  Is French policy in this regard schizophrenic? Or is it simply cynical?

  In any event, Araud's statement left a mixture of surprise and anger that was not difficult to suss out even days after that closed-door meeting. So, a late exiting Council member asked, why wasn't it reported elsewhere? Watch this site.

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