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'Tolerance' disappears in France

Posted October. 09, 2018 07:52,   

Updated October. 09, 2018 07:52


As many as 200 tenants gathered in front of the Sénat in Paris on September 19 and protested against a planned revision of the housing law (the so-called Elan law). “We’re occupants, not criminals,” they shouted. “The French government is threatening the poor and tenants.”

The French government has banned landlords from evicting their tenants from November to March under any circumstances. Because tenants could suffer from extreme cold or freeze to death at worst if they are forced out on the street.

The French National Assembly, however, passed Wednesday the Elan law aimed at strengthening the rights of landlords, for example, by allowing them to evict their tenants in the middle of winter. Landlords in France were not allowed to force their tenants to leave unless they had requested them to leave 48 hours in advance.

Now that the relevant article has been removed, landlords are free to evict their tenants whenever they want. Furthermore, the revised law removed an article that allowed tenants to stay at their house for two more months even if they were illegally occupying it, leaving them no choice but to vacant the house immediately after they receive an eviction order. But the revised law kept an article that banned landlords from evicting tenants, who did not pay the rent on time, in the winter if the tenant signed a legal rental contract in order to protect basic human rights.

The three colors in the French flag represent liberty, equality, and fraternity. France is a country with strong socialist solidarity even though it is a capitalist state. It is well known as “the country of tolerance” that emphasizes human rights and freedom but that characteristic is disappearing in recent years.

Unlike Korea, where closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras are everywhere, France has been reluctant to install CCTV cameras for fear of increased state supervision and infringement on personal freedom. But CCTV cameras are on a sharp rise on the streets as the country suffered a few terrorist attacks and the cameras make it easier to maintain public order.

About 18,000 owners of butcher shops across the country are living in fear. There have been many cases where vegetarians threw rocks at their windows and write “Meat=Murder” or “Murderer” on them. The attacks are targeting fish, cheese, and hamburger stores as well.

“I have never felt such a violent atmosphere in the past 31 years of running a butcher shop,” Jean-François Guihard, the president of the French Confederation of Butchery, said and requested the government for protection. “I have received more than 150 death threats so far. I cannot stand it anymore,” said a man who runs a slaughter house. He said he would quit the job.

Jung-Min Dong ditto@donga.com