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For France's Global Anti-Executions Campaign, Fabius Rebuffs Q on Francophony

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, September 27 -- When French foreign minister Laurent Fabius came to the UN stakeout to promote what he called France's global campaign against the death penalty, one assumed he would take questions other than in French, and that he would explain what France is doing with the group of countries in the so-called Francophonie.

But the first question selected was about Iran, and in French. Then another French journalist was called on, to ask about Japan and its executions.

Inner City Press spoke up, asking "What about the countries in the Francophonie?" But the questioning was pushed elsewhere.

Then France's Permanent Representative Gerard Araud, who several Security Council members tell Inner City Press bragged in closed consultations of being proud to be able to denigrate religion, came in whispered in Fabius' ear.

When Benin's foreign minister Nassirou Bako Arifari finished answering a question, Fabius shook his head and said no, he had to go. He had heard the Francophonie question, but chose not to answer it. And so goes this French government and its global anti death penalty campaign.

Footnote: by contrast, at the very same stakeout area on the very same morning, Inner City Press questions were taken and answered by the foreign ministers of Jordan and Italy, Australia and the Netherlands. The first two professed support for freedom of the press. This French presidency, and particularly its French Mission to the UN, does not seem to share that.

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