Monday, December 10, 2007

Unwelcome guest... with money

"It's normal that the weak resort to terrorism." Apparently, that sentiment was expressed last Friday by Mouammar Kadhafi at a summit conference of African and European leaders in Lisbon. In the spirit of French law, these words might be construed as an apology for terrorism, and this would appear to be a crime in France. But we're on unstable ground. From a certain viewpoint, Kadhafi is merely describing a situation that exists in the real world, where the weak do in fact resort regularly to terrorism. And the French never forget that their heroic Résistance fighters, who didn't wear military uniforms, were in fact considered by Vichy and the Nazi occupant as terrorists.

Throughout the world, today is the 59th anniversary of the creation by the United Nations, in Paris, of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Many observers in France are disgusted to find Nicolas Sarkozy receiving Kadhafi as a guest at the Elysées Palace this evening. One of the most outspoken critics of this reception is Sarkozy's state secretary in charge of Human Rights, Rama Yade.

This exceptional 31-year-old lady, born in Senegal, accompanied Sarkozy to Libya when he went there on 25 July 2007 (without his wife) to thank Kadhafi for liberating the Bulgarian nurses. Full of smiles, she even shook hands with the Libyan dictator.

Consequently, many people are surprised, today, by the violence of her words concerning Kadhafi's visit to France. She stated publicly that the Libyan leader must "understand that our land is not a doormat on which a leader, terrorist or not, can wipe from his feet the blood of his deeds". She concluded her declaration by a dramatic metaphor: "France must not be the recipient of this kiss of death." Although Rama Yade is hardly an authentic representative of the downtrodden (her father, a professor of history, was the personal secretary of Léopold Sédar Senghor), her direct language is that of a youthful and intelligent France: the opposite of the so-called langue de bois (empty "woody" language) often employed by politicians.

Needless to say, the words of Rama Yade have made a huge impact in the media today. Countless individuals who don't necessarily admire Sarkozy's young lady from Senegal have voiced their disapproval of this state visit... whose obvious aim consists of signing French contracts (weapons, nuclear power, desalination equipment, etc) for some ten billion euros. Money like that goes to your head, and makes you forget—for a day or so—about human rights.

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