Demonstrating in the street is a well-known sport in France, and there’s plenty to demonstrate about at the moment. According to polls, no president has ever been so unpopular as François Hollande, and unemployment has seldom been so high. At the ministerial level, there’s financial jiggery-pokery. The socialist Hollande makes known how little he appreciates the conservative governments of Germany and Britain. Hoping to shore up his position, he got a bill to legalize same-sex marriage through the parliament. There were fisticuffs inside the building and mass demonstrations outside, leading to arrests and tear gas. Gays have been attacked and beaten in cities throughout the country. A coalition of right-wing opposition parties, the Catholic Church, and a formidable lady comedian who goes under the spoof name Frigide Barjot, denounces violence but remains determined to take all legal steps to stop final ratification. The media compare the demonstrations planned for the coming days to historic revolutions, and even Le Figaro, that cautious newspaper, raised the specter of 1789. A lot of people evidently want the famous phrase Gay Paree to keep its old-time meaning.
In Paris, an Iranian man chased a rabbi and his son, both wearing yarmulkes, through a synagogue, then slashed them with a box cutter badly enough to require hospitalization. Witnesses said the man shouted “Allahu akbar!” repeatedly during the attack. According to the Associated Press, “an official investigation was underway to determine a possible motive.” Hmmm, we’re stumped too.