We didn't have to wait long for evidence of how this translates into France's civic life.
The French city of Angoulême has finished (this evening) hosting a photo exhibit, explicitly sympathetic to the Gaza-based terrorist organization Hamas, as its contribution to Palestinian Fortnight, organized by the Charente Palestine Solidarity Association. [See an online version of the photo exhibition here on the photographer's website.]
Angoulême municipal officials proudly provided the organizers with the use of an exhibition hall in the city's Hotel Saint-Simon. The Jerusalem Post said the controversial exhibition of pictures by a French photographer, Frédéric Soutereau, has previously been exhibited and awarded a gold medal at a photojournalism event in the southern French city of Perpignan in 2010. Representatives of France's Jewish community, still reeling from the Toulouse killings (see "3-Apr-12: After Toulouse"), protested vociferously over yet another French exercise in public glorification of the Hamas terrorists, but their voices were ignored. The French public should be given the opportunity to "understand better what Hamas really is” said one of the Hamas promoters, quoted by in a leading French newspaper. He explained that the exhibition shows the daily activities of Hamas and its “active and positive role” in the social, economic and cultural life of the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.
The French are pre-occupied with presidential elections this week. Still, perhaps someone should translate a Washington Post article from this week into French so that the “active and positive role” of Hamas can gain a context. It's a powerful piece, entitled "In Gaza, Hamas rule has not turned out as many expected" [online here]; a tale of rapidly escalating corruption, cronyism and spiraling failure. Two brief extracts:
"The Hamas that won control of this Mediterranean strip, isolated by an economic siege and hobbled by 30 percent unemployment, no longer looks the same to many Gazans. It secured once-lawless streets, as promised. But hopes of Islam-guided fairness and an end to the graft that had tainted the tenure of the secular Fatah party have turned to widespread griping about Hamas corruption and patronage. Hamas has hired more than 40,000 civil servants, and analysts say the top tiers are filled by loyalists. Members of the Hamas elite are widely thought to have enriched themselves through investment in the dusty labyrinth of smuggling tunnels beneath the border with Egypt and taxes on the imported goods. That money has been channeled into flashy cars and Hamas-owned businesses that only stalwarts get a stake in, critics say. Street-level umbrage has risen in recent months alongside tax increases and a crippling power crisis that has caused 18-hour blackouts and gas station lines that snake around corners."And this:
"Despite public discontent, Hamas officials seem unruffled. The movement’s grip inside Gaza remains near-total, in part because a unity deal with Fatah, which could lead to elections, is on ice. That leaves Abu Khaled, an unemployed former shopkeeper, to seethe in his 11th-floor apartment in Gaza City. Khaled, 55, said he voted for Hamas because it promised change and justice, which he figured meant there would be jobs. But only those who “pray in a Hamas mosque” get work, he said, adding that the movement’s leaders look as though they have gotten comfortable with their mini-state and have forgotten about fighting for Palestinian independence. “We used to take taxis, now we walk. We were eating, now we are not. We must admit, things changed — but for the worse,” Khaled said wryly, speaking through coils of cigarette smoke. “Hamas is controlling us. They are responsible for us.”