French Youth on Mururoa
the South of France I was shocked to see the following slogan
on someone's T-shirt: 'Si Hiroshima vous a fait rire, attendez
voir Mururoa.' (If Hiroshima made you laugh, wait till you see
Mururoa.) It made me think of how my French friends reacted to
nuclear testing. In general, they didn't. But they are ashamed
of what the man they chose to govern their country has decided
to do. They believe in Jacques Chirac and hope he will bring
better times to a country with increasing unemployment, racism
and now terrorism. However, they now realise that in the face
of world opinion, he is too stubborn to change his own. As a
Dutch person living in France I am especially disappointed in
the youth. Rather than demonstrating, they prefer to point the
finger elsewhere; 'Look at what China is doing!' The issue will
blow over, they hope, and the world will focus elsewhere. I am
surprised at their indifference because, in the main, they have
an extremely positive and engaging attitude towards the world
and its well-being.
Marloes Deelen (The Netherlands)
in Montpellier, France
the world has seen France's nouveau president drop a hot
potato with his decision to resume the country's atomic testing
program. In obstinate Napoleonic fashion he has refused to reverse
a decision that is pointedly out of step with world opinion.
So what do the French people think? Despite the widespread protests
there is a distinct rien à foutre attitude at large.
Some say, 'Why all this fuss about a couple of harmless tests
when there's carnage in Bosnia?' Some feel the government is
setting a precedent for other nuclear powers to restart or extend
their own atomic testing programs, thus leading to a small scale
arms race. Meanwhile others fear the consequences of the inevitable
boycott of French goods and services. Call it blithe optimism
or sheer arrogance but the French believe they have not betrayed
Europe or indeed, the rest of the world. There is even the notion
that such a nuclear deterrent is vital to the stability of Europe.
Cross any French border, however, and you will find the French
shrug of the shoulders replaced by the European headshake.
James Trevelyan (UK)
in Angers, France
Chirac announced the resumption of nuclear tests in the Pacific,
the French people have protested. They are not as passive as
others suggest. They are as hostile as those in the Pacific nations.
However, here in Australia, one of the most vocal countries condemning
the tests, we do not hear about the numerous protests all over
France. As a French citizen, I am against nuclear testing and
am willing to protest against my government's decision. But let's
get it right! If I commit myself to protesting, it will be to
stop nuclear proliferation in all countries - not just France.
I also think it is very narrow-minded of protesters to vandalise
buildings that have either a French name or French goods. Many
of these owners have Australian citizenship and have nothing to
do with political decisions in France. People should have more
common sense. We need to distinguish between government policy
and society. National culture and opinion have reduced influence
on political decisions once a politician has been elected.
Florence Mélinand (France)
in Melbourne, Australia