SHARE
COPY LINK

POLITICS

Paris presents ‘manifesto of beauty’ to spruce up French capital

Paris city authorities have unveiled a 'manifesto for beauty' containing plans to spruce up the City of Lights where an online campaign highlighting ugliness and filth has piled pressure on mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Paris presents 'manifesto of beauty' to spruce up French capital
Photo: Ludovic Marin/AFP

Deputy Mayor Emmanuel Gregoire said that several recent initiatives from the Socialist-Green alliance that runs the capital would be scrapped, including allowing Parisians to plant their own gardens on public space.

Under a 2015 scheme, locals were invited to apply for licences to plant flowers around the feet of trees in the street — at the cost of the traditional cast-iron covers that are a much-loved part of the Parisian landscape.

Many amateur gardens have since turned into rubbish-strewn eyesores covered in dog faeces, with Gregoire conceding they were “not satisfactory from an aesthetic point of view” and posed “major upkeep problems.”

A zero-tolerance approach to dumping rubbish in public will be taken, Gregoire promised, while efforts to combat tagging and illegal posters will also be stepped up.

Unsightly temporary yellow road markings for new cycling lanes will also be removed, in line with a previous pledge, while recent concrete barriers will be replaced with “more discreet” versions.

The #saccageparis (trashed Paris) social media hashtag went viral in the first half of 2021, with residents posting photos of piled up rubbish, rotting benches, abandoned scooters, or badly maintained planted areas in the street.

OPINION: The real ‘trashing’ of Paris is not cycle lanes and benches but gentrification

Much of the anger was directed at city hall for replacing or neglecting Paris’s unique architectural heritage, including its street furniture bequeathed from the middle of the 19th century under Napoleon III.

Though the mayor’s office initially denounced the hashtag as a “smear campaign”, city authorities have been spurred into action.

Gregoire already laid out eight measures aimed at improving the city’s looks in July last year.

He conceded on Tuesday that the campaign “had also been useful in the way that it forced us to question ourselves and react”, although he said sometimes the same photos were reproduced, exaggerating the extent of the problems.

Hidalgo is running for president as the candidate for the Socialist party but is struggling to make an impact on voters. She is currently polling around three percent. The presidential election will be held in April.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

POLITICS

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

The final composition of the new French government was announced on Friday. A new investigation suggests that historic rape allegations against a newly appointed minister were ignored.

Newly appointed French Minister faces rape allegations

It didn’t take long for scandal to hit the France’s new government.

An investigation by Mediapart published the day after the final list of ministerial positions was announced revealed that two women have accused one of the appointees of rape. 

READ MORE Who’s who in France’s new government?

Damien Abad, the new Solidarity Minister denies the allegations and a police investigation into one allegation was dropped in 2017. But another could be about to open. 

Who is Damien Abad? 

Damien Abad is a 42-year-old son of a miner from Nimes in southern France who became the first handicapped MP to be elected in 2012. He has arthrogryposis, a rare condition that affects the joints.

Prior to his appointment as the Minister for Solidarity, Autonomy and Disabled People, he was the leader of the France’s right-wing Republicans party in the Assemblée nationale

What are the allegations? 

Two alleged victims, who didn’t know each other, told Mediapart that Abad raped them on separate occasions in 2010 and 2011.

The first woman described meeting Abad for dinner after having met him weeks earlier at a wedding. She said she blacked out after one glass of champagne and woke up in her underwear in a hotel bed with Abad the next morning fearing she had been drugged. 

A second woman who lodged a formal charge against Abad in 2017 said that he harassed her by text message for years. She eventually agreed to meet with him one evening. After initially consenting, she told him to stop – but her plea fell on deaf ears as Abad raped her. 

What does Abad have to say? 

The new minister denies the accusations.

“It is physically impossible for me to commit the acts described,” he told Mediapart – in reference to his disability. 

He admitted to sending “sometimes intimate” messages, but said he had “obviously never drugged anyone”. 

“I was able to have adventures, I stand by my claim that they were always consensual.”

Is he under investigation? 

The second alleged victim made a formal allegation against Abad in 2017. 

A subsequent investigation was dropped later that year after a “lack of sufficient evidence was gathered”.

Mediapart report that Abad’s entourage were not questioned by police and that the MP told investigators that he had no memory of the alleged crime. 

The first alleged victim flagged the abuse to the Observatory of Sexist and Sexual Violence in Politics – an unofficial watchdog monitoring elected bodies – earlier this month. 

The Observatory has since brought the case to the state prosecutor, but it is unclear if another investigation will be launched.  

Who knew? 

The tone deaf appointment of Gérald Darmanin as Interior Minister in 2020 was controversial because at the time he was under investigation for rape. His nomination was met with street protests in Paris and elsewhere. Feminists accused (and continue to accuse) Emmanuel Macron of not taking sexual violence seriously. 

The investigation into Darmanin’s alleged crime has since been dropped.

Some will question whether the naming of Abad shows that lessons have not been learned. 

“Once again a minister  in the government of Emmanuel Macron accused of rape,” said Caroline De Haas, the founder of the #NousToutes feminist movement. 

The Observatory sent a message warning senior party figures in the Republicans and LREM about the allegations on Monday – prior to Abad’s nomination. 

France’s new Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne denied having any knowledge of the warning. 

“I am going to be very clear on all these questions of harassment and sexual violence, there will be no impunity,” she said during a visit to Calvados. 

“If there are new elements, if the courts are summoned, we will accept the consequences.” 

READ MORE Who is Élisabeth Borne, France’s new PM?

The Observatory meanwhile claims it has been ignored. 

“Despite our alerts, Damien Abad who is accused of rape has been named in government. Thoughts and support to the victims,” it tweeted

SHOW COMMENTS