Some French media seem extremely excited with what happened in the torch relay in Paris. "Fiasco of torch relay in Paris", runs a super-sized headline Monday of the daily newspaper Le Figaro. And another French newspaper, Liberation, has "Slap in the Face," as the front-page headline Tuesday, which called the protests a "debacle" for China with leering eyes in the country's "misfortune".
Are they really still elite French newspapers long known for their solemnity, professionalism and objectivity? And is France still the nation which advocates civility and even a respect for its aliens or dissidents to some extent?
Surely, Beijing is the city that is to host the 2008 summer Olympic Games; China is the country to host the Olympics. But how can the French people forget that this time Paris, as part of the torch's route, is held responsible for the Paris leg. The Olympic torch relay is in Paris, and it is the activity of the city of Paris and France themselves; the Paris City Hall and the French Olympic Committee were meant to host to this even this time. However, the event, which should have been a grand joyous occasion, turned into such a dreadful scene, and why should some French take delight in the scuffles instead of feeling with a sense of shame?
In Paris, all citizens have the right to assemble, demonstrate and protests, according to explanations of some French media and the views of a few noted political figures, and the government does not have the right to interference with. Many people also acknowledged: by trying to snatch the torch and extinguish the Olympic flame, the pro-Tibet extremists were not expressing a legitimate freedom of demonstration and protest. They not only violated other people's freedom, but also trampled upon the spirit of Olympics, which should be respected by people all over the world.
Some of the troublemakers were arrested or detained, and torchbearers were protected by police. Apparently, the actions of the latter were legitimate and just as confirmed in compliance with law, whereas the moves of the former were offenses. People remember very well that in the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen, it clearly states that freedom means the right to do everything which does not harm others.
French people are surely clear that to complete the torch relay is to spread the Olympic spirit and is also the sacred right of each organizer and participator in the torch relay course, and there are 100 reasons to protect their sacred rights. Throughout of the whole proceeding of the Olympic torch relay in Paris, many Chinese who live in France did their utmost to welcome and protect the sacred flame. It is also their sacred right to do so. They voiced their opinions loudly, but their voices were so filtered by some French media and politicians.
It is obvious that some French are confused. Many view the spectacle of Tibet independence elements as legitimate but forget the sanctity of the Olympic flame. Some French media and politicians ignored such voices. Some French were indeed confused with their minds numb and saw only the rights of "Tibet independence" elements to the neglect of carrying forward the Olympic spirit.
France is an ancient civilized nation, which has contributed tremendously to the world in the fields of politics, economics, culture and other spheres. If some media figures regard themselves as superior to others for this reason and have the right to point accusing figures to people, and that's totally wrong. Pride and prejudice blocked their views and cast a thick shadow over Paris, this beautiful capital of civilization.
The French must conceal that the performance of their capital in the Olympic torch relay was far from good. As far as we can see, the parliament of the "capital of culture" adjourned deliberately when the torch passed the gate, Its only purpose was to render its disgruntled members a chance to express their discontentment. We also see that when Bernade Laporte, the French Secretary of State for Sport, criticized the actions of extremists that "ridiculed" Olympic values and was "not a good things for the image of France", some politicians urged him to clarify which campaign he belongs to and some said "those who do nothing to protect human rights are always found on the side of enemies." Such words simply resemble those absurdities often heard during a decade of turmoil in China's "cultural revolution" from 1966-1976.
In this "capital of culture", all we can see is that some media carefully selected information and modified pictures to meet their special aims, when they bombarded readers with five to six provoking top stories and columns on the topic within two weeks or so that were not necessarily true.
The newspaper, Le Monde, carried two false news stories in just several days, with one story saying that France set three conditions for (President) Sarkozy to attend the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony, and the other piece reads that International Olympic Committee (IOC) will consider scrapping the international leg of the Beijing Olympic torch relay as a result of the anti-Chinese protests… Do these reactions and saying embody the French spirit of free, equal and philanthropy? Are these outrageous people our so-called "friends of freedom?
Some French media said that the Paris torch relay affairs have represented a debacle or a slap in the face. Nevertheless, it is a slap in the face to a few French. When all the headlines have passed, everyone will know that there is no winner in the affair, but that Paris was the biggest loser.
Written by Tao Duanfang, a columnist resident in Canada, and translated by People's Daily Online