Was French rapper Fianso able to block a motorway with impunity?

Last week the French rapper Fianso blocked a motorway near Paris without formal authorisation in order to shoot a video. The website Boulevard Voltaire, co-founded by the mayor of Béziers Robert Ménard, voiced strong opinions on the matter and denounced the rapper’s impunity in an article published on April 10th. However, an investigation has indeed been launched into the obstruction of traffic.

(Translation: ‘A rapper shoots a clip on a motorway… no fine nor conviction!’)

The images have circulated widely online. On April 6th, the rapper Fianso, who comes from Seine-Saint-Denis, blocked the A3 highway towards Aulnay-sous-Bois in the north-east of Paris, in order to shoot a video. Released the following day on YouTube, the clip has had 4 million views in less than a week. The road block only lasted a couple of minutes but the Prefecture had not given Fianso its authorization. In the article, Boulevard Voltaire states that the rapper was not prosecuted and affirms that “if you are a rapper from a ‘diverse cultural background’, you can scorn the police and endanger the lives of drivers with complete impunity.”

But as French newspapers Le Parisien and Libération indicate, an investigation is indeed underway for «traffic disruption» and for the «use of fake license plates». The investigation is being handled by the Ile de France region’s motorway security company CRS, and Le Parisien noted that it was launched on April 8th, two days after the incident. This information has been confirmed to Crosscheck by a source at the prosecutor’s office of Bobigny.


Is the man who flour-bombed François Fillon on France’s watchlist for extremists?

The weekly newspaper Valeurs Actuelles revealed on April 7th that “the person who threw flour at François Fillon in Strasbourg on Thursday April 6th was under government surveillance following his travels to Afghanistan. (…) It is believed that he went there twice and participated in fighting.” The article, the title of which was in the present tense at the beginning of the day and was later updated: “Exclusive news: The man who threw flour at François Fillon is under government surveillance and has just returned from Afghanistan” was shared over a hundred times on Facebook in under two hours.

In reality, the person who flour-bombed François Fillon in Strasbourg was put on the government’s watchlist back in 2012.Surveillance ceased in 2015 after the set period of surveillance measures had elapsed. According to corroborating sources contacted by French media LCI (a Crosscheck partner), the person in question (thought to be a 27-year-old man called Quentin) travelled to the Afghan-Pakistan border zone in 2012 as well as to India. These travels resulted in his questioning by administrative authorities upon return to France, but these gave “no detection of radicalization”. Under these circumstances he was nevertheless put on France’s watchlist as a measure of precaution.

(Translation: The person who threw flour at François Fillon is under government surveillance and has just come back from Afghanistan.)

(Translation: The person who threw flour at François Fillon was under government surveillance and has come back from Afghanistan.)

Click here for an article by Le Monde to find out what the terror measure “Fiche S” is.


Did France’s Superior Council for Audiovisual content forbid the use of the national anthem and flag in political campaign videos?

A controversy surfaced this week on social media: France’s Superior Council of Audiovisual content (CSA) has forbidden the use of the national anthem and flag in candidates’ campaign videos for the French presidential election. This information was relayed by Front National’s vice-president Florian Philippot. However, the ban has actually been in place since 1988.

(Translation: ‘The CSA forbids the Marseillaise [French national anthem] and French flag in campaign videos for the presidential election because it fears… “frenzied nationalism”. Baffling!”)

The controversy arose after the publication of an article by the French newspaper L’Opinion. On April 4th it wrote: “the Superior Council of Audiovisual content has forbidden the use of flags in the candidates’ official video clips.” The weekly paper explains that “what surprised all campaigners is cited in Article 9: the ban on the portrayal of any national or European emblem.”

Yet, this standard is by no means new. Contacted by CrossCheck, the CSA explained that these rules are “known to the candidates” and they “have been in place since 1988”. The organisation reminds us that the ban concerns anthems, flags and French and European institutions. The goal, according to the CSA, is to “protect the state’s official and institutional symbols, so to prevent their use for electoral purposes.”

(Translation: ‘The ban on the use of anthems and flags in campaign videos exists since 1988’ [Sylvie Pierre-Brossolette is a member of the CSA]. (Screenshot)

The L’Opinion article mentions the existence of this ban. The newspaper explains that “whilst the rule existed in past electoral campaigns, the regulator had chosen to be lenient.” The CSA has chosen to be stricter in the 2017 presidential campaign. This is to avoid – according to a source cited by L’Opinion – “certain campaigns capitalizing upon frenzied nationalism.” This same source reminds us that in 2012 Nicolas Sarkozy sparked controversy with his campaign video in which the word “customs” written in Arabic appeared.

This article arose in response to a question on this topic submitted to CrossCheck by a web user.



Did the French Minister of Education sign an agreement allowing Arabic to be taught in primary schools?

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the French Minister of Education, was in Tunisia on March 31st, 2017. During her visit, the French weekly right-leaning newspaper Valeurs Actuelles reported that an agreement had been signed between Vallaud-Belkacem and her Tunisian counterpart for the teaching of Arabic in French primary schools. Note however that the agreement aims to update certain agreements regarding teaching, and it in no way imposes compulsory teaching of Arabic in primary schools.

The information originated from the Tunisian website Businessnews. Valeurs Actuelles briefly explains that “an agreement would have been signed between the two Education Ministers to teach Arabic in French primary schools.” This agreement has often been wrongly interpreted. In this instance numerous web users spoke up to protest against the compulsory teaching of Arabic at schools.

(Translation of title in Valeurs Actuelles’ article: ‘Najat V. Belkacem signs an agreement for the teaching of Arabic in primary school’)

In reality, the agreement concerns the updating of conventions regarding the teaching of foreign languages in primary school. Several agreements were signed between France and eight partner countries between 1973 and 1986. They aimed to establish the teaching of foreign languages at primary school to help migrant children retain links to their country of origin. In this framework of conventions, known as ELCO ( which stands for Teaching of Language from Culture of Origin), the teachers were recruited and paid by the partner countries.

Contacted by Crosscheck, the French Ministry of Education justified its wish to modernise these agreements: “ELCO was quickly criticised for several reasons: the teachers were reserved solely for immigrant children, the teachers were not part of the educational team, and sometimes the teaching of the language became a religious class.”


Source: French Ministry of Education

Najat Vallaud-Belkacem’s objective in 2016 was to transform ELCO into EILE (International Teaching of Foreign Languages). The aim is to give the option of learning foreign languages to all. The recruitment of teachers – in this case integrated into the educational teams – is done collectively with the foreign countries concerned. They remain however paid by their country of origin. Tunisia is the second country to sign an EILE agreement after Portugal. The aim is to abandon ELCO after 2018. The agreements with the countries that reject EILE will be discontinued.

This article arose in response to questions on this topic submitted to CrossCheck by several web users.