Geopolitics

French Sociologist To Media, Feminists: Show Strauss-Kahn The Respect He Deserves

The “spectacle” that the American judicial system has made of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is not only “unbearable,” it is also “disgraceful,” argues French sociologist Michel Fize.

Michel Fize

Have journalists been practicing "omertà" in the sexual harassment cases in which Dominique Strauss-Kahn is implicated?

Should they have published photos of the IMF head being led out of the police station? Was there any collusion?

The American "judicial spectacle," which surely takes after certain Hollywood blockbuster portrayals, is utterly abominable. The images last week of Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) leaving the Harlem police station under the flicker of camera flashes, handcuffed from behind, surrounded by sinister-looking police officers, are reminiscent of those of Lee Harvey Oswald, John Fitzgerald Kennedy's alleged assassin, leaving the police building in Dallas in November 1963. Oswald was similarly escorted –and then shot on live television by Jack Ruby. DSK got lucky!

These images are unbearable and above all disgraceful to a nation that sees itself as a great democracy. The French judicial system deserves a bit of appreciation, as at least it prohibits, since the year 2000, the circulation of such images.

This "perp walk," we're told from across the Atlantic, is done to both humiliate the suspect (though presumed innocent!) and to dissuade potential criminals from breaking the law. On this last point, we must reiterate that no penalty has ever dissuaded anyone from breaking the law; everyone has his or her own social or personal reasons for obeying the law.

As far as the humiliation argument is concerned, the objective has been reached (we'll add to these images the other no less degrading ones of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, dejected, in the courtroom, barely keeping himself on his feet in front of the judge who wouldn't even dare crack a smile at the end of the hearing).

Whether or not Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty, it is unacceptable to treat a man in this way – first of all because he is a human being, and second because he was the general director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Listen to me well: like everyone, I believe in and am therefore committed to the principle of equality of all citizens in the eyes of the law. Nevertheless, I think that there are certain individuals (Mr. Strauss-Kahn is one of them) who, by reason of his or her distinguished responsibilities, or for the services they rendered to their nation or the world, have the right to a certain respect that would neither mean impunity from their acts nor a mitigation of their penalties. In this case, it seems that Mr. Strauss-Kahn was not and is still not treated respectfully, that he is treated even more poorly than a "regular" defendant. This is not, in my opinion, justifiable.

"The respect of women"

There are those who resent such empathy toward a man suspected of aggravated sexual assault. We mention in particular the recent pronouncements of some feminists. "Respect for women must prevail," Gisèle Halimi tells us, for example. "Does anyone care what the young maid might have felt and feels?" adds Clémentine Autain, the former deputy mayor of Paris. I believe, as a response to Mrs. Halimi, that it is the respect of victims, no matter who they are, that must be called for.

But in the current case, having heard nothing to this day but the words of the accuser, it is dangerous for anyone to identify with certitude the victim. The maid did not lie, Gisèle Halimi tells us. "What would her motive be?" I'm sorry, madam, but at this stage in the investigation, the possibility of manipulation should not be discounted. They say the assaulted woman was "beautiful." When one knows Mr. Strauss-Kahns penchant for "beautiful women," how could we not imagine a generous "gift" (from who knows who?) to DSK and consensual sexual relations, as argued by the accused's defense?

Let me conclude with the important grey areas of the case. Here we have a man, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who – after allegedly committing serious crimes – leaves calmly to eat breakfast with his daughter. Then, on his way to the airport, he calls the hotel (which has been alerted of the supposed assault since 12:30 p.m.) in order to report a forgotten cell phone in his room. Is this normal behavior for someone who has committed such crimes?

Not at all. DSK's accusers are at this point nowhere close to proving his alleged crimes. Let's therefore restrain ourselves just a bit for the time being. I think this applies to both politicians in power, who, alas, are slowly leaving behind their privacy, and to feminists whose legitimate struggle for women's rights should not cause them to forget the clearheadedness and prudence that befits such circumstances.

(Michel Fize is a sociologist and national delegate to justice and liberties at the Mouvement unitaire progressiste)

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Protests against gasoline price hikes in Lebanon

Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

👋 Wai!*

Welcome to Thursday, where leaked documents show how some countries are lobbying to change a key report on climate change, Moscow announces new full lockdown and the world's first robot artist is arrested over spying allegations. Meanwhile, German daily Die Welt looks at the rapprochement between two leaders currently at odds with Europe: UK's BoJo and Turkey's Erdogan.

[*Bodo - India, Nepal and Bengal]


🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

• Documents reveal countries lobbying against climate action: Leaked documents have revealed that some of the world's biggest fossil fuel and meat producing countries, including Australia, Japan and Saudi Arabia, are trying to water down a UN scientific report on climate change and pushing back on its recommendations for action, less than one month before the COP26 climate summit.

• COVID update: The city of Moscow plans to reintroduce lockdown measures next week, closing nearly all shops, bars and restaurants, after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a nationwide seven-day workplace shutdown from Oct. 30 to combat the country's record surge in coronavirus cases and deaths. Meanwhile, India has crossed the 1 billion vaccinations milestone.

• India and Nepal floods death toll passes 180: Devastating floods in Nepal and the two Indian states of Uttarakhand and Kerala have killed at least 180 people, following record-breaking rainfall.

• Barbados elects first ever president: Governor general Dame Sandra Mason has been elected as Barbados' first president as the Caribbean island prepares to become a republic after voting to remove Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.

• Trump to launch social media platform: After being banned from several social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, former U.S. President Donald Trump announced he would launch his own app called TRUTH Social in a bid "to fight back against Big Tech." The app is scheduled for release early next year.

• Human remains found in hunt for Gabby Petito's fiance: Suspected human remains and items belonging to Brian Laundrie were found in a Florida park, more than one month after his disappearance. Laundrie was a person of interest in the murder of his fiancee Gabby Petito, who was found dead by strangulation last month.

• Artist robot detained in Egypt over spying fear: Ai-Da, the world's ultra-realistic robot artist, was detained for 10 days by authorities in Egypt where it was due to present its latest art works, over fears the robot was part of an espionage plot. Ai-Da was eventually cleared through customs, hours before the exhibition was due to start.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Nine crimes and a tragedy," titles Brazilian daily Extra, after a report from Brazil's Senate concluded that President Jair Bolsonaro and his government had failed to act quickly to stop the deadly coronavirus pandemic, accusing them of crimes against humanity.


📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Erdogan and Boris Johnson: A new global power duo?

As Turkey fears the EU closing ranks over defense, Turkish President Erdogan is looking to Boris Johnson as a post-Brexit ally, especially as Angela Merkel steps aside. This could undermine the deal where Ankara limits refugee entry into Europe, and other dossiers too, write Carolina Drüten and Gregor Schwung in German daily Die Welt.

🇹🇷🇬🇧 According to the Elysée Palace, the French presidency "can't understand" why Turkey would overreact, since the defense pact that France recently signed in Paris with Greece is not aimed at Ankara. Although Paris denies this, it is difficult to see the agreement as anything other than a message, perhaps even a provocation, targeted at Turkey. The country has long felt left out in the cold, at odds with the European Union over a number of issues. Yet now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is setting his sights on another country, which also wants to become more independent from Europe: the UK.

⚠️ Outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel always argued for closer collaboration with Turkey. She never supported French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas about greater strategic autonomy for countries within the EU. But now that she's leaving office, Macron is keen to make the most of the power vacuum Merkel will leave behind. The prospect of France's growing influence is "not especially good news for Turkey," says Ian Lesser, vice president of the think tank German Marshall Fund.

🤝 At the UN summit in September, Erdogan had a meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the recently opened Turkish House in New York. Kalin says it was a "very good meeting" and that the two countries are "closely allied strategic partners." He says they plan to work together more closely on trade, but with a particular focus on defense. The groundwork for collaboration was already in place. Britain consistently supported Turkey's ambition to join the EU, and gave an ultimate proof of friendship after the failed coup in 2016.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"He has fought tirelessly against the corruption of Vladimir Putin's regime. This cost him his liberty and nearly his life."

— David Sassoli, president of the European Parliament, wrote on Twitter, following the announcement that imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the European Union's highest tribute to human rights defenders. Navalny, who survived a poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin, is praised for his "immense personal bravery" in fighting Putin's regime. The European Parliament called for his immediate release from jail, as Russian authorities opened a new criminal case against the activist that could see him stay in jail for another decade.

💬  LEXICON

魷魚的勝利

Chinese video platform Youku is under fire after announcing it is launching a new variety show called in Mandarin Squid's Victory (Yóuyú de shènglì) on social media, through a poster that also bears striking similarities with the visual identity of Netflix's current South Korean hit series Squid Game. Youku apologized by saying it was just a "draft" poster.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin and Bertrand Hauger

Anyone want to guess Trump's first post on his upcoming social media platform...? Let us know how the news look in your corner of the world — drop us a note at info@worldcrunch.com!

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