When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Paris City Hall, beach style
Paris City Hall, beach style

PARIS — The 2017 edition of "Paris Plages," the artificial beaches installed each summer along the banks of the river Seine, will be sans sable— sandless! Why? Because on Monday, the City of Paris announced that it will end its 14-year-old partnership with French-Swiss group LafargeHolcim. But the decision here matters less than what actually prompted it. Or, to be more precise, what didn't.

In June 2016, the French daily Le Monde published claims that LafargeHolcim — the world's leading cement company — had paid terror groups, including ISIS, so it could keep its cement plant in northern Syria running. Almost nine months later, on March 2, 2017, and after an internal investigation, LafargeHolcim finally admitted to the allegations and said in a statement that although "those responsible for the Syria operations appear to have acted in a manner they believed was in the best interests of the company and its employees ... the investigation revealed significant errors in judgment."

But that's not why the City of Paris reacted. What really ruffled feathers in the French capital, according to First Deputy Mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard, was LafargeHolcim's announcement, earlier in the month, that it was ready and willing to supply cement for U.S. President Donald Trump's controversial "border wall." Julliard called it a "nefarious project."

On March 9, one week after coming clean about its activities in Syria, CEO Eric Olsen told the AFP new agency that his company is "here to supply our customers' needs. We don't have a political view on things."

That may be true. But the Socialist mayor Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and her team certainly do. As the French edition of the newspaper 20 Minutes reports, a far-left member of the city council called on the mayor to boycott the company as early as last July, describing the sand used for the artificial beaches in Paris as "tainted with blood." But for Julliard, the fact that LafargeHolcim collaborated with ISIS, a terror group responsible for more than 200 deaths in France alone, seems to matter less than the company's plan to collaborate on Trump's wall. He called the Trump connection an "aggravating factor" that goes against "the ethical commitments that Parisians can expect from the city."

To be sure, as much as they'll miss their sandy makeshift beach, many Parisians will no doubt approve of the decision. Still, the timing may leave some of them scratching their heads about their city government's ethical priorities.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Geopolitics

Why The 'Perfect Storm' Of Iran's Protests May Be Unstoppable

The latest round of anti-regime protests in Iran is different than other in the 40 years of the Islamic Republic: for its universality and boldness, the level of public fury and grief, and the role of women and social media. The target is not some policy or the economy, but the regime itself.

A woman holds a lock of her hair during a London rally to protest the murder of Mahsa Amini in London

Roshanak Astaraki

-Analysis-

The death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in Tehran on Sept. 16, after a possible beating at a police station, has sparked outrage and mass protests in Iran and abroad. There have been demonstrations and a violent attempt to suppress them in more than 100 districts in every province of Iran.

These protests may look like others since 2017, and back even to 1999 — yet we may be facing an unprecedented turning point in Iranians' opposition to the Islamic Republic. Indeed newly installed conservative President Ibrahim Raisi could not have expected such momentum when he set off for a quick trip to New York and back for a meeting of the UN General Assembly.

For one of the mistakes of a regime that takes pride in dismissing the national traditions of Iran is to have overlooked the power of grief among our people.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ