As usual it is the Chinese news agency Xinhua that has provided an intriguing light on the general rejoicing at the somewhat belated release of the two French journalists by an Iraqi militant group. They were kidnapped in August, causing a ripple of shock in France. The French had thought that they were well protected by their anti-American stance. It turned out that various rather forceful bits of legislation, not to mention the über-forceful behaviour of the French security forces, have made France less loved by Islamic militant groups than they would like to be. How very sad.
It seems that, after a great deal of negotiation and world-wide solidarity (well, among those who owed the French government favours), many trips by various important people, most recently the troubled Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, have finally produced the desired result: the French journalists have been freed, are on their way home and President Chirac made an emotional speech on TV.
We have been here before, with the Italian aid workers. And, what do you know? Even before anyone could ask the obvious question, M Raffarin has denied that any ransom had been paid. One’s usual reaction to an unsolicited denial by a politician is deep suspicion merging into certainty that what he is denying is the truth.
It cannot be so. For we are told by the Communist Senator, Nicolas Borvo that Raffarin assured all at a meeting that there had been no demands for ransom and no payment. That should be enough to doubt the scoffers. As M (or should that be Comrade?) Borvo put it:
"He was very clear. We can consider this to be the word of the prime minister."Good show. But wait a minute: could that be post-modernist irony?