Monday, February 09, 2009

The French Doctor

Bernard Kouchner is having a few little difficulties:  a book by Pierre Péan accuses him of improprieties,  of conflict between his private and public activities.

Defending himself in the National Assembly on Wednesday, 'the French Doctor',  as  the media in France refer to him,  did not convince everyone.  But on Thursday,  the president gave his support.  As Jean-Marie Colombani,  now commenting for France Inter on Fridays,  said,  in the light of the targeted attacks by some sections of opinion,  "le soutien de Nicolas Sarkozy à Bernard Kouchner est bienvenu."

There are a couple of issues in the background here.

Péan has been criticised for describing Kouchner as a cosmopolite,  in the 'thirties a code word for "Jew".

Then,  on the issue of the 1994 massacre in Rwanda,  Péan is known to be pro-Hutu,  even to the point of denying the genocide (*).

In December last year, France Inter had another look at Rwanda,  with Patrick de Saint-Exupéry.  One of the points that  Saint-Exupéry insisted on was the refusal,  going to the highest levels of the political establishment like Dominique de Villepin,  to fully acknowledge the genocide:  either they talk about a "double genocide"  -  that is the Tutsis were also involved in the killings;  or they simply admit a "genocide in Rwanda",  that is a genocide of nothing at all;  they will not refer to it as a "genocide des Tutsis par les Hutus".  Incidentally,  the formula the BBC generally uses is "genocide of Tutsis and moderate Hutus".

* In 2006 there was talk of an action against Péan under France's holocaust denial laws.

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