France unveils 'secular charter' for all schools

Education Minister Vincent Peillon says his new secular charter, which was revealed on Monday after 10am, is designed to promote "absolute respect for freedom of conscience". The document is to appear in a prominent place in every school, in the form of a poster and is remind teachers and pupils of a list of secular, Republican principles. The charter, which contains 15 articles, was officially unveiled in a special ceremony at a Lycée in Ferté-sous-Jouarre in the Seine et Marne department, near Paris.

Marine Le Pen: The threat of radical Islam

The news became public only a few days ago - French authorities asking the European Parliament to lift the immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so that she can be prosecuted for inciting racial hatred.

In 2010, the president of the National Front party likened Muslim street prayers in France to the Nazi occupation, sparking widespread condemnation.

Many Muslim leaders have blamed Le Pen’s fiery rhetoric on Islam and immigration for a rise in Islamic intolerance and xenophobia in France. But she insists she is neither a racist nor xenophobic, but simply a patriot.

Dédiabolisation: Women are flocking to Marine Le Pen

MARINE LE PEN has been in a litigious mood lately. In early July the far-right National Front leader’s defamation suit against Caroline Fourest and Fiammetta Venner, authors of a critical book on the Le Pen family, came to trial in Paris. It was predictably embarrassing for Ms Le Pen as a lot of familial dirty linen was being aired.

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Le Pen won more than 42 percent of the vote in a working class district in northern France where she has established a loyal base for the National Front, tapping into unease over high unemployment and years of economic decline. She faces a close-fought run-off next Sunday against a Socialist who should pick up votes from Melenchon supporters. But, buoyed by deep-running anger over an economic crisis many see caused by the euro zone, her anti-euro party is at its closest in years to winning seats in parliament, making it to the run-off in four constituencies across France.

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Those Revolting Europeans

Both countries held elections Sunday that were in effect referendums on the current European economic strategy, and in both countries voters turned two thumbs down. It’s far from clear how soon the votes will lead to changes in actual policy, but time is clearly running out for the strategy of recovery through austerity — and that’s a good thing.

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