Algerians in shock after journalist Khaled Drareni’s conviction

The courtroom in the court of Algiers literally exploded on the announcement of the two-year prison sentence of Khaled Drareni, this Tuesday, September 15 on appeal. The journalist from Casbah Tribune, correspondent for TV5 Monde, detained since March 27, was sentenced at first instance to three years of imprisonment on August 10. The court upheld the two charges of“Attack on national unity” and D’“Incitement to unarmed assembly” against Khaled Drareni, prosecuted for covering a demonstration by Hirak, the protest movement launched in February 2019,

→ REPORT. In Algeria, year 1 of the “hirak”

His two co-defendants in the same case, Samir Belarbi – one of the Hirak figures – and human rights activist Slimane Hamitouche, who appeared free, saw their four-month prison term, covered by their detention provisional, also confirmed.

Anger against “telephone justice”

The many supporters, journalists, activists, families, angry, chanted slogans for the release of Khaled Drareni and against the “Telephone justice”, a direct allusion to the lack of independence of the judges in the treatment of political cases as in the case of this case. The emotion was very strong. Many relatives, colleagues, members of his family were in tears. And the security services had to resort to reinforcements to evacuate the raging gathering of a hundred people.

Slogans hostile to Abdelmadjid Tebboune, the president since December 2019, also resounded around the court, where defense lawyers improvised a press briefing in front of the media. “It’s been a political affair from the start. We have the ultimate proof of that today. There is nothing in the accused’s file to justify a conviction. President Tebboune interfered in this issue and he made it infernal for everyone ”, said Abdelghani Badi, one of the main defenders of the three defendants in a group of 39 volunteer lawyers.

→ READ. Why is the repression hardening in Algeria?

For Lamine Maghnine, the founder of the Arabic-speaking site Tarik News, “President Tebboune is directly responsible for this sentence; he must intervene, as of today, to end this masquerade ”.

The president under the control of the security power

If the Algerian president is thus invited to the front line, it is because he declared, without citing his name, that Khaled Drareni was “An informant (Khbarji) for foreigners”, during a televised meeting, on May 2, with journalists.

The intervention had caused a shock within the collective of the defense, the legal file containing no allusion to a case of espionage. Khaled Drareni is also a correspondent for Reporters Without Borders in Algeria and has been subjected to constant intimidation for his work defending the freedom of journalists.

For many observers, Abdelmadjid Tebboune is a novice president, who has multiplied the blunders since taking office and allowed himself to be intoxicated by the security power, decided to silence an inflexible professional witness of the popular marches. “Tebboune did not expect the reaction in support of Khaled Drareni to be so strong in Algeria and in the world. He no longer knows how to get out of this misstep except by persisting in denying his initial fault. It sinks. It’s terrible for Algeria ”, comments Sofiane Hamrache, member of the support committee.

→ READ. Algeria: a referendum on the revision of the Constitution on November 1

The lawyers will now challenge this verdict of September 15 before the Supreme Court in cassation. Me Mustapha Bouchachi does not rule out the possibility of a presidential intervention to give freedom to Khaled Drareni in a scenario where the political power does not lose face and keeps control over the enlargement decisions, “To say that they are not conceded to pressure”.

Hirak activists were released by the president on January 2 and July 2. But there are still 47 prisoners of conscience in Algeria, according to the Hirak Prisoners Defense Committee.


Health security influences German voters, not violence

Since the migration crisis of 2015, questions of violence and insecurity have appeared more regularly in the media and political discourse in Germany. In fact, the sexual assaults on New Year’s Day 2016 in Cologne, the increase in Islamist terrorist acts, in Wurzburg and Berlin, but also the attacks on refugees and reception centers, and a series of murders committed by the extreme right for a year, from Kassel to Hanau and Halle, are all events that have found a strong echo in the media and within political parties.

An AfD effect on the emergence of this theme

Also since 2015, the far-right party, Alternative for Germany (AfD,) has established itself in this context as the third national political force, consolidating its presence in the east of the country during the legislative elections of 2017. “The AfD has seized on these themes and highlights the threats, even if statistically crime is on the decline in the country”, comments Hartmut Rosa, sociologist at the University of Jena.

→ READ. On the political front, the battle against the AfD

« Traditionally, too, the Christian Democrats of the CDU and CSU react very quickly to these questions. In recent years, they have advocated more for strengthening the legal arsenal to the detriment of a prevention policy ”, he notes.

No controversy across the Rhine over the use of words

The issue of security is indeed a constant in the German elections, and this, well before the migration crisis of 2015 and the rise of the AfD. “The voters are very sensitive to it and are conquered on this issue”, confirms Karl-Rudolf Korte, director of the School of Governance at the University of Duisburg.

Unlike France, however, the question of violence as such rarely comes into the debate, and controversies over the use of words to designate offenders are rare. “There are no suburbs in German cities like there are in France”, constate Karl-Rudolf Korte. “Of course, there are cases of urban violence, with the presence of clans, in Berlin and Hamburg, but this violence is clearly quantifiable and does not influence election campaigns”, believes this political scientist.

The stake of the other insecurity, health

What could influence the legislative elections of autumn 2021, on the other hand, is health insecurity, linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. “It is a new theme which is essential in the population”, notes Karl-Rudolf Korte. Demonstrations against the imposed hygiene measures brought together up to 40,000 participants in Berlin in August.

Will these movements survive until next year’s electoral meeting? “ Nothing allows us to say it, because a minority of the population takes part ”, notes Hartmut Rosa. This sociologist recalls that 80% of Germans support Angela Merkel’s current health policy.


Brexit, UK divided over Boris Johnson’s bill

►What does Boris Johnson’s draft law on the internal market contain, denounced by the European Union, the entire British opposition and many Conservative MPs?

This bill returns to several points of the protocol on Northern Ireland contained in the Brexit agreement negotiated last year with the EU. The latter provides that products sent to Northern Ireland from Great Britain and considered to be at risk of being subsequently transferred to the EU will be subject to European VAT.

→ READ. Brexit: the British approve a law breaking the agreement with the EU

According to the bill that the British Prime Minister wants to pass, London will unilaterally decide which products will be at risk. This also cancels out the need for exit declarations for goods traveling from Northern Ireland to Great Britain considered to be an attack on British sovereignty. Finally, London refuses that British companies selling their products in Northern Ireland are not subject to EU anti-dumping rules.

► Why are the Scottish and Welsh administrations so worried about the Internal Market Bill?

1is January 2021 will be the first effective day of the post-EU era for the United Kingdom: the arrangements negotiated until then between the United Kingdom and the Twenty-Seven will have ended the day before. Prerogatives, previously held by Brussels on behalf of the member countries, will therefore return to the hands of the British. This concerns agriculture, fisheries, food standards, environmental policies and some aspects of labor law.

The Home Market Bill, introduced by the Johnson administration, aims to repatriate prerogatives related to agriculture, fisheries and food standards to central government. It also promotes two principles: mutual recognition and non-discrimination. This means that a product whose sale is authorized in one of the four countries of the kingdom is also authorized in the other three – even if Northern Ireland remains a special case. According to London, the aim is to ensure that no barriers will hamper trade within the national market, as has been the case until now.

The Scottish and Welsh administrations, which are respectively in the hands of the separatists of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Labor Party, on the contrary fear a race to the bottom in terms of regulations. “Scotland may have to accept lower standards set by a British government seeking a trade deal with the United States,” fears Scottish Prime Minister Nicola Sturgeon. We could be forced to accept chicken washed with chlorine, for example. »

►What is the expected legislative process?

The House of Commons is now studying the text in detail after having ratified its second reading on Monday evening by 340 votes against 263. The upcoming discussions in its various committees and the vote on the various amendments are expected to be closer. Then it’s up to the House of Lords to review the text and make amendments. The text will then come back to the Commons.

→ DEBATE. Brexit: can we still hope for an agreement?

According to Anand Menon, professor of political science at King’s College London: “If the Lords manage to sabotage the bill by a strong majority, it may encourage hesitant MPs to do the same when they are considered in the Commons. “


In Italy, a masked return to school from 6 years old

Eight million students are getting ready to finally go back to school. “It is a social and educational priority for Italy and my government, we cannot fail”, hammer Giuseppe Conte. “You young people, respect the barrier gestures! They are crucial to overcome the challenge of safe re-entry. “, Echoes the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza.

→ DOSSIER. Back to school like no other

In fact, the rebound of the coronavirus pandemic is hitting young people above all. But the Minister of Education, Lucia Azzolina, says she is confident. “The new contagions are linked to the holidays. We are doing everything, including free serological tests for school staff, to reopen schools. It is fundamental, especially for children from disadvantaged families ”.

Recruitment of 84,808 new teachers

Nearly 3 billion euros have been allocated to the education sector and to local authorities to follow the prescriptions of the technical-scientific committee. The golden rule is the distance of one meter between two people. But with classes of less than 50 m2, the problem is difficult.

→ DEBATE. Back to school 2020: is the health protocol in schools sufficient?

Of the 2.5 million individual desks ordered, a good number will not be distributed until October 31. And to double the workforce, there are still thousands of rooms missing. ” If we cannot find the premises, from the start of the school year we will have to reintroduce distance education in all regions for 300,000 high school students ”, affirms the president of the association of the principals of Lazio, Mario Rusconi.

In addition, the recruitment of 84,808 new professors and 25,000 substitutes would not be sufficient. ” Almost 60% of teachers are over 50 years old, which exposes the school universe to a fragile health ”, explains Lena Gissi of the Cisl-Scuola union (1).

Another thorny subject, the obligation to wear a mask from the age of six. ” It is a necessity ” tranche the Emergency Commissioner, Domenico Arcuri. ” We will distribute 11 million free masks per day, for students and staff, and 170,000 liters of hydro-alcoholic gel per week ”. The mask can be lowered while sitting in class, if the distance is guaranteed.

Taking temperature at home every morning

« How will my 9 year old son endure it for hours on end? I’m afraid he’s suffocating! “, Angela panics. “ Wearing a mask in a closed environment is a test for adults, imagine the difficulties for children at school and in transport », Adds the national secretary of the directors of establishments, Antonello Giannelli.

→ INFOGRAPHICS. Covid-19 in Europe: health measures, country by country

The management of contagions will be shared between the Covid-19 school referent and the local health authority (Asl). A child’s temperature should be taken at home every morning. If it reaches 37.5 ° he will stay at home. Two negative tests will be required before returning to class. If a suspicious case is discovered at school, the pupil will be isolated while waiting for his parents.

In case of positivity, his companions, the teachers of the class and any individual in contact with him, will be tested and, if necessary, put in fortnight. If the virus flares up in an establishment, it will be closed by decision of the ASL and online education will be restored. “Only strict rules will avoid the fiasco », Estimates a Roman shopkeeper who is preparing her 6-year-old daughter for an unprecedented situation.

→ NEWSLETTER. Find our back-to-school content every Wednesday


China’s provocations in the Taiwan Strait

The Taiwanese army is on high alert. In recent weeks, Taiwan has reported a dramatic increase in the number of Chinese Air Force planes that have violated Taiwanese airspace. Last weekend, Chinese fighters and bombers crossed the border for the second time in a few days, according to the Taiwanese defense minister, who launched fighters in response.

→ ANALYSIS. Taiwan steps up its “Taiwanization” diplomacy

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen announced Monday, September 21, that these hunters were now “armed”. One way of warning China, more than ever on the verge of war.

“A skid on the part of a pilot can cause a war”

“China has taken a new step in the military provocation against Taiwan, assures Stéphane Corcuff, sinologist at Sciences-Po Lyon and associate researcher at the Center for French Studies on Contemporary China in Taipei. The Taiwan Strait is experiencing its most serious military crisis since 1958 (Chinese bombings on the Taiwanese islands of Kinmen and Matsu, Editor’s note) and 1996 (Firing of dozens of Chinese missiles in the direction of Taiwan, Editor’s note). We cannot rule out a slippage on the part of a pilot who provokes a war ”.

→ MAINTENANCE. Taiwan: “The United States wants to remind China that they are there”

Furious at the visit to Taiwan in September by a US Under Secretary of State to pay tribute to the late President Lee Teng-hui, China has launched military exercises near Taiwan. This visit, denounced Beijing, “Will encourage the supporters of Taiwan independence in their arrogance and insolence”.

Chinese military exercises are “military bluster” according to Mike Pompeo

Mainland China (led by the Communist Party) and Taiwan (refuge of the nationalist army after the civil war of 1949) have been administered by two different regimes for more than 70 years. But Beijing considers the island territory to be part of China and opposes any coming to Taipei by foreign leaders who give legitimacy to the Taiwanese authorities.

In Beijing’s eyes, its military exercises, described as “Military bluster” by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, are “A legitimate and necessary operation to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China”. They are also intervening in a context of growing Sino-American tensions on many subjects – Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Wuhan virus, trade issues …

“China is making a splash”

Faced with what she calls « provocations », Tsai Ing-wen triggered the army’s state of alert, deployed missiles on the Penghu archipelago (Pescadores Islands) and along the west coast facing China. “However, the president takes care to play low profile, Stephane Corcuff analysis, it does not want to give a pretext to China which, in my opinion, does not want a war that it is not sure of winning ”.

For the researcher, “China is showing off above all for reasons of pure domestic policy. Xi Jinping seems to want to give pledges to the most nationalist within the army, but without going so far as to start an all-out war on Taiwan ”. Such a scenario would provoke an immediate US military reaction and a deadly regional war.


British approve law breaking EU deal

The sling of part of the English conservatives was not enough. The law on the internal market, a text tabled by the government of Boris Johnson which explicitly returns to the agreement reached with the European Union on Brexit, was approved by the British Parliament on Monday, September 14 in the evening. The House of Commons returned to the heated debates around Brexit, which officially entered into force on January 31, and finally approved the text by 340 votes to 263.

→ EDITORIAL. A Brexit without confidence

Come in person in front of the deputies to defend the text, Boris Johnson judged it “Essential to maintain the political and economic integrity of the United Kingdom”. He accused the European Union of using the provisions intended to guarantee peace in Northern Ireland as a ” the sink “ in the current negotiations and threaten to create “A customs border in our own country”.

Agreement called into question head-on

Because the law includes in particular provisions which shatter the agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on Northern Ireland. The text allows British judges to override the divorce treaty, by authorizing certain subsidies or by levying customs duties between Northern Ireland and the rest of the country. However, these are one of the key measures demanded by Europeans aimed at preventing the re-establishment of a physical border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the island.

→ MAINTENANCE. “The UK could be sentenced to heavy financial penalties”

An agreement that Boris Johnson signed less than a year ago, and that he now calls into question head-on: his bill represents a ” security net “, a ” insurance policy “, which the country will not have to use if London and Brussels manage to agree. “No British Prime Minister, no government, no Parliament could accept” such conditions, he argued, responding in particular to the criticisms formulated by five of his predecessors, from John Major to Theresa May.

Expectation of the House of Lords

The large majority of the Prime Minister on this text is not a surprise. But the continuation of the parliamentary progress of this project promises to be more uncertain with in particular the examination at the beginning of next week of an amendment which would impose a parliamentary lock before any change relating to the agreement to leave the European Union.

It will also require the agreement of the Lords, who make up the upper house of Parliament and say they fear a blow to the credibility of the United Kingdom on the international scene. The sling has continued to mount in recent days within the Conservative majority, the rebels being joined Monday September 14 by the former finance minister, Sajid Javid, who resigned from the Johnson government in February.

October as the limit

The Europeans have given London until the end to withdraw the controversial provisions, risking legal action. Despite these strong tensions, negotiations with the EU on their future trade relationship are due to resume Tuesday, September 15 in Brussels. Previous discussions have not resulted in any major breakthroughs, especially with regard to London’s compliance with rules that avoid creating unfair competition at the gates of the EU and the conditions for European fishermen to access British waters.

→ READ. United Kingdom: “major” trade agreement with Japan

Both sides said a deal had to be reached in October to avoid a « no deal » which would result in tariffs between the United Kingdom and the European bloc and risk exacerbating the historic economic crisis caused by the new coronavirus.


In Budapest, haro against the takeover of the faculty of dramatic arts

Will five Oscar and 17 nominations weigh enough in the balance, to guarantee the endangered independence of the University of Dramatic and Cinematographic Art (SZFE), in Budapest? In a petition signed Monday, September 7, actress Cate Blanchett, awarded two statuettes, joined her colleague Eddie Redmayne, Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski, writer Salman Rushdie and many others to shout their indignation in a petition facing the putting under supervision of this institution, founded in 1865.

→ READ. Budapest, a new Hollywood dream factory

Here is a significant reinforcement, and a welcome international impact, for the thousands of Hungarians, students, professors who formed the day before, Sunday, September 6, a human chain from the faculty to the parliament, in protest.

Against the takeover, the revolt

The case dates back to a bill tabled on the night of May 26. Adopted in July, the latter transfers the management of the university to a foundation, as of September 1. The stated aim was to strengthen the establishment’s competitiveness, but at the end of July the government appointed one of the most fervent supporters of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Attila Vidnyansky, director of the Hungarian National Theater since 2013. A playwright who likes to call himself “Cultural nationalist”.

→ PORTRAIT. Anna Donath MEP, Hungary’s other voice

His first gesture was to try to remove the powers of the board of directors, competent to appoint the rector of the institution, but also to define the educational content and vote the budget. Monday, August 31, on the eve of the takeover, the management of the establishment resigned, and 250 students occupied the premises to prevent Attila Vidnyansky from sitting the next day.

Patriotism and Christianity on the program

The playwright close to power does not hide his desire to introduce “Another type of thought”, by focusing on patriotism and Christianity. We did not expect anything else from this leader of the “Cultural struggle” driven by the Orban government, whose aim is to roll back liberal influence, considered dominant in artistic circles. On December 11, 2019, the Hungarian parliament adopted a law strengthening the weight of the state in the management of theaters and all of the country’s cultural institutions.

However, Attila Vidnyansky defended himself from wanting to limit freedom of expression and creation. Faced with the outcry over his appointment, he promised Tuesday, September 8 a “Much more colorful education”, with “A wide variety of ideas, beliefs, methodologies and worldviews”. Talks should take place in the coming days between the students and the new administration.

In the meantime, support for the protesters is pouring in from everywhere, whether from Austrian art universities or renowned theater companies. The Berliner Ensemble company, founded by Bertolt Brecht, has given up traveling to the MITEM festival in Budapest. And the #freeSZFE slogan is spreading like wildfire on social media.


Fires: in Los Angeles, life on the verge of suffocation

Some 16,000 firefighters are at work in California to try to control gigantic fires that have claimed at least 22 victims since mid-August. In the polluted Los Angeles basin, the population, less well prepared for fires than that of the north of the coast, suffocates under smoke of unprecedented magnitude.


Brussels wins a round in the “battle of the siege”

In the European Parliament, the “anti-” and the “pro-Strasbourg” have dug up the hatchet. While the holding of the next plenary session of the institution, during the week of September 14, had so far been scheduled in the Bas-Rhin, the president of the institution, the Italian David Sassoli, finally decided that it would be held in Brussels.

For the anti-Strasbourg people, going to the Alsatian city in times of coronavirus, when the city was placed in a “red zone” by the French authorities, was in fact akin to nonsense. On the contrary, retorted their opponents on this issue, as long as strict health measures were respected so that everyone’s safety was ensured, it was necessary to go to Strasbourg, in the name of respect for European texts (which require the holding of 12 plenary sessions by year in Alsace) and institutional balance.

David Sassoli called to settle quickly

Caught between two fires since the start of the school year, David Sassoli has taken the time, for several days, to listen to each other, relentlessly consulting a horde of advisers, turning to Paris, too, to know the latest health assessments. He therefore decided, without waiting for the Conference of Presidents, which brings together the President of Parliament as well as the heads of the various political groups, supposed to meet on Thursday 10 September. Even if it means withdrawing himself, he who had promised this plenary session in Strasbourg in July. But no question, for the President of Parliament, of taking risks and promoting the spread of the virus.

Especially since in this long “battle for the siege” within the institution, a large majority of deputies have declared themselves willingly, in recent days, in favor of Brussels – “The ratio must be around 600 against and 100 for! And among the latter, there remain almost only French and Germans ”, estimated, before the announcement of the decision, François-Xavier Bellamy, leader of the Republicans.

His Alsatian colleague, Anne Sander, did not hide “Having spent the entire week lobbying colleagues to explain to them that working in Strasbourg is no more dangerous than in Brussels”.

“Some take up the Covid to attack Strasbourg”

In front of them, the Belgian Philippe Lamberts, co-president of the group of the Greens / European Free Alliance, had a completely different story in this express campaign in favor of one or the other city. “Parliament must set an example and agree to hold the plenary in Brussels. Otherwise, the Greens will limit their physical participation to the strict minimum ”, he warned, addressed to David Sassoli.

History, role, operation… all about the European Parliament!

This siege battle, “It’s a constant”, admits Anne Sander, who regrets that “Some have seized upon the Covid to attack Strasbourg”. The detractors of the Alsatian city usually question the bill – financial and ecological – of this monthly transhumance. Health arguments are now added to it. Occasionally or permanently, they tipped the scales, and allowed the supporters of Brussels to win, at least, one round.


″ We won’t get rid of the masks anytime soon ″, says German virologist

Christian Drosten admits in an interview with Deutsche Welle that “it is very difficult to make global predictions”. For the German virologist and architect of his country’s strategy to fight covid-19, there is no doubt that the winter will be difficult. Also because “if we are going to have vaccines over the next year, it may take until the end of that year for the majority of the population to receive it”.

Moreover, even when some part of the population starts to get vaccinated, the masks will not disappear from our lives. “We won’t get rid of the masks anytime soon,” says Drosten. For the virologist, Of course, in Germany and many other countries in Europe, where the incidence of disease is low, immunity will also be low, so the only way for people to protect themselves is to continue to follow the rules and wear a mask.

Christian Drosten admits that at the moment it is difficult to assess the situation of the pandemic, for example in Africa, but guarantees that India is the country that worries him most: “It has a high population density. The virus is spreading in an uncontrolled way”. But South America and some parts of Africa are also delicate, he says.

In Europe, it is possible that some countries will even have to impose more restrictive measures, with the arrival of autumn, explains the expert.

As for the relative success of Germany, Drosten points to the fact that he reacted early, the easy access to the tests, but also the late arrival of the epidemic, which allowed to control the transmission.

Germany recorded the highest daily number of new coronavirus cases since April, with 2,297 new infections – reports the Robert Koch epidemiological surveillance institute.