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Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn handcuffed - the image that shocked the French

The arrest and detention of the head of the International Monetary Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as he's more commonly known in France, on charges of alleged sexual assault have made the headlines around the world over the past few days.

But perhaps the one image that those in France have found most difficult to accept is that of the "man who would be president" being handcuffed.

The image that shocked many French (screenshot from BFM TV)

In France, what happened - or didn't happen - on Sunday in New York has of course been major news; DSK was the front-runner in the Socialist party's primary to choose its candidate for next year's presidential election.

Even though he hadn't officially declared his intention to run, everyone knew he would when he decided the time was right.

Since Sunday the Socialist party has been thrown into headless chicken mode wondering how to cope with the accusations.

Its leader, Martine Aubry, had reportedly agreed not to stand in the primary, leaving the way clear for DSK.

Now though she is having to rethink her position, keep the party focused on it policies and manage the upcoming presidential campaign while all the time insisting that everyone in the party is profoundly shocked by the allegations.

The governing centre-right Union pour un Mouvement Populaire (Union for a Popular Movement, UMP) has on the whole been pretty reticent at drawing any conclusions or pointing the finger, declaring that the "presumption of innocence" must take precedence.

And even though the French president has called for "dignity" and requested government ministers from commenting publicly, there have been a few dissenting voices within his party.

UMP, parliamentarian Bernard Debré didn't mince his words when questioned by Europe 1 radio shortly after news broke of DSK's arrest.

"It's humiliating for France to have a man like that who wallows in sex and has done for some time as everyone knows," he said.

"Of course there's the presumption of innocence, but he is a disreputable man."

Not surprisingly Marine Le Pen, the leader of the far-right Front National took up the theme that many surrounding DSK knew of his behaviour and reputation towards women.

"The truth is that both politicians and journalists have been talking for the past couple of months about Strauss-Kahn's almost 'pathological' relations over the years with women," she told RTL radio.

"He has been definitively discredited as a potential presidential candidate."

French politicians and French society simply hasn't known how to handle what has been reported and the media hasn't made life easier.

It's borrowing courtroom images from the United States - something that simply wouldn't happen in the French judicial system - and happily - if that's the appropriate word - running them in endless loops on the country's many all-news channels.

Legal experts, political colleagues and opponents, friends, associates, pyscho-analysts - you name it - they've all be dragged in front of the cameras and asked for their opinions.

But perhaps the most shocking thing - and there are more than enough elements in the whole affair to shock - to many in France has been the sight of DSK appearing in handcuffs.

Remember this is a man who until the weekend looked as though he could well be the next French president.

This time next year he could have been in office and forming his first government.

Seeing pictures and clips of him in handcuffs seems to have hurt profoundly many French already embarrassed by the unsavoury way in which the equally sordid affair has been reported.

What's more there's actually a law in France - the Guigou law from 2000 - to protect an individual's "presumption of innocence by forbidding the dissemination of any image of a person in handcuffs - before he or she has been found guilty.


Anonymous said...

A sleazy man. Looks as though you saw it coming

Anonymous said...

I agree. The man is disgusting. I'm reading now that he might plead "consensual sex", which is a way of saying the maid begged for it. Now after having been raped and assaulted, her reputation will be attacked by this chauvinistic pig and his lawyers. How could the French contemplate electing him as President? I don't care whether they are shocked by the pictures of DSK in handcuffs. They should be relieved they did not elect a pervert as president. The little guy in place at the moment - I forgot his name, he's married to this Woody Allen film actress - seems like a symbol of respectability compared to DSK.

Anonymous said...

How can his wife defend him? What signal is that sending to all the women victims of abuse?

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