Monday, April 04, 2005

Need another reason to despise the French?

French flag tribute to Pope sparks left-wing anger

PARIS, April 4 (Reuters) - As Catholics mourned the death of Pope
John Paul, French leftwingers and a major teaching union criticised the
government on Monday for ordering flags on public buildings to be lowered in a
sign of respect.

Socialist senator Jean-Luc Melenchon and Yves Contassot, a senior Green party member on the Paris City Council, said the government had abused its powers in ordering the official tribute to the Pope, who died on Saturday. The Unsa union said the government was guilty of double standards having ordered schools to take part in the tribute to a religious leader while having banned Muslim headscarves in state schools in a drive to keep schools firmly secular. "Let the Christians pay tribute to the head of their church, it's a private matter," Contassot told France Inter radio.

"Today, we have a government and a head of state who, clearly, for
political reasons, are trying to take advantage of an issue that is a private
matter," he said. Lowering of flags on all state buildings was "totally out of
place and at the limit of legality."