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French press review 6 February 2018


Lone Paris bombing suspect Salah Abdeslam snubs judge at his trial in Brussels while most papers focus on President Macron's maiden trip to Corsica.

We begin with a media blitz about a rather disappointing first day of the trial of the only surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, in Brussels.

Le Parisien reports that the 28 year-old who was expected to break nearly two years of silence refused to answer questions about the bloody shootout with police that led to his capture in the Belgian capital preferring instead to launch a tirade in the name of Islam.

Le Figaro reacts to the posture of defiance of the judiciary put up by the Belgian-born Frenchman of Moroccan origin as he fell back into silence after refusing to stand when asked by the judge and objected to having photos or a video of him taken during the four-day trial in Brussels.

The right-wing publication says that while the hearing was adjourned until Thursday Abdeslam faces a jail term of 20 years for the Belgian side of the charges of attempted terrorist murder of police officers and carrying banned weapons well before he is tried for the Paris attacks in which 130 people were killed.

La République des Pyrénées argues that Abdeslam's claims that he is answerable to his his God is insulting to everyone who supports the judicial justification of the fundamental right to silence for defendants.

According to l'Est Républicain, in order not to be disappointed, families of the victims now know that it will be hard for them to understand not just the madness driving terrorists.

For Sud-Ouest, it was no surprise that he opted for a provocative attitude towards the court, ignoring the questions of the judge and trying instead to accuse western society of persecuting Muslims.

Meanwhile, President Emmanuel Macron's three-day visit to the Island of Corsica starting today is the subject of a flurry of comments, as Nationalists who won two-thirds of the regional assembly clamour for greater autonomy from the centralized French state.

In an opinion piece in Le Monde, the separatist assembly president Jean-Guy Talamoni, urged Macron to "send a very strong sign of openness and dialogue" on his visit.

"The message of the people of Corsica is clear," Talamoni wrote, declaring that Corsicans saw their island "as a nation and not just an administrative unit".

The publication underlines that their grievances include demands for the Corsican language to have the same status as French, and for people from other parts of France to be restricted from buying property on the island.

La Croix claims that for his first visit to Corsica, since moving into the Elysée Palace, Emmanuel Macron opted for a special date -- the 20th anniversary of the assassination in Ajaccio of the French Prefect Claude Erignac.

As the Catholic daily observes, paying tribute to the murdered official will not prevent Macron from having a dialogue with the elected autonomists and nationalists which it admits will be a tough exercise.

"Negotiation is the only solution to the Corsican question" says Libération, adding that it is time to admit that all the other islands in the Mediterranean have been granted special status.

From the left leaning publication’s view, even if some of their demands may not be acceptable others are not unreasonable. Rejecting them, Libé warns, would only awaken ghosts of the past.

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