Entries in Paris (17)


Huge Protests in Paris over Same-Sex Marriage

DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The City of Lights has turned into the city of fights over same-sex marriage.

An estimated 300,000 people marched in Paris on Sunday to protest President Francois Hollande’s controversial "marriage for all" bill.

The president and his government contend that the measure's intention is to simply extend equal benefits to gay and lesbian couples but opponents, including Catholic conservative groups, say it subverts traditional family values.

One of the provisions that has got some people up in arms is allowing same-sex couples to adopt children in France.

Yet, despite the huge protests, Hollande might ultimately win out when debate in the legislature begins soon.  Polls show two-thirds of the citizens in France favor same-sex marriage.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gay Mosque to Open in Paris, Address to Be Secret

Courtesy Ludovic Mohammed Zahed(PARIS) -- Ludovic Mohammed Zahed is braced for controversy, maybe even worse.  A gay Muslim and an expert on the Koran, Zahed plans to open Europe's first gay-friendly mosque in Paris at the end of this month.  He calls it a place of shelter as well as a place of worship.

"We need to have a safe space for people who do not feel comfortable and at ease in normal mosques," Zahed told ABC News.  "There are transgender people who fear aggression, women who do not want to wear head scarf or sit in the back of the mosque.  This project gives hope back to many believers in my community."

"Common prayer, practiced in an egalitarian setting and without any form of gender-based discrimination, is one of the pillars supporting the proposed reforms of our progressive representation of Islam," he said.

"The Unity" mosque will initially operate in a Buddhist temple in a neighborhood in eastern Paris, and will emphasize "accepting everyone as equally God's creation. ...I hope straight men will pray together with gay men and women, everyone," said Zahed who declines to make public the address of the venue, due to security concerns.

Zahed's mosque will honor some Islamic traditions, like Friday prayers (Jumu'ah), and the Muslim marriage contract (Nikah) to bless same-sex marriage.  It will also perform funeral rites (Janazah) for those who have been denied a traditional Islamic funeral based on Sharia law because of their sexual orientation.

"It is a safe place to worship," said Zahed, where no religious questions will go unaddressed.  "Our imams will talk on any taboo topic."

Zahed will be one of three prayer leaders, along with a female French convert to Islam and another man who is being trained.

"Current Islamic ethics may condemn this sexual orientation," Zahed said, "but in fact nothing in Islam or the Koran forbids homosexuality.  Indeed, for centuries, Muslims did not consider homosexuality to be the supreme abomination that they do today."

According to Zahed, renowned Muslim poets wrote odes glorifying handsome boys.  Some were interpreted as metaphors for loving God, but some also seem to reference gay intimate relations.  He argues that homosexuality became criminalized only under European colonialism.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Demolition Leaves Paris Crowd in Cloud of Dust

ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/GettyImages(PARIS) -- Spectators gathered to watch the demolition of a 14-story building near Paris became the spectacle themselves when they were enveloped by a dust cloud.

The crowd was gathered in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine on Wednesday to watch as authorities pulled the plug on the decades-old building, the last in a trio of buildings demolished in recent years due to age, according to the BBC.

Authorities planned the demolition with precision but what they couldn’t count on was Mother Nature.  As the 1960s-era building crumbled, a change in wind direction blew its remnants directly on the spectators.

Cameras capturing the demolition showed shocked onlookers moving to escape the cloud of dust blowing their way, covering their faces with scarves, with some moving more quickly than others.  There were no reports of injuries in the incident.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pippa Middleton’s Party Host Apologizes for Gun ‘Joke’

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(PARIS) -- The French aristocrat who hosted Pippa Middleton for a wild weekend in Paris that ended with the royal sister-in-law embroiled in a gun photo scandal has apologized.

Arthur de Soultrait issued a public apology to Middleton, 28, the sister-in-law of England’s Prince William.  He described the incident, in which Middleton was snapped laughing as a male companion in a car pointed a gun at a photographer following them in Paris, as a “joke.”

“Last Saturday, I was in a car with Philippa Middleton, and we were being followed by paparazzi,” read the statement from De Soultrait, a fashion label owner, released Wednesday in Paris, according to People magazine.

“She had been subject to constant and dangerous harassment by paparazzi throughout her time in Paris.  The car was being driven by a friend of mine, whom Pippa had only met a few hours before.  As a joke, my friend brandished a toy pistol in their direction,” he wrote.  “Obviously Philippa had no idea that he was going to do that and told him to stop immediately.  She did not find it funny.”

De Soultrait, 30, and Middleton were both passengers in the Audi convertible driven by De Soultrait’s friend, later identified as French criminal lawyer Romain Rabillard, 36, when he allegedly reached for what appeared to be a semi-automatic gun and jokingly aimed it at a paparazzi following them, London newspaper The Sun reported.

The widely-released image, showing Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, grinning as Rabillard aims the gun, thrust the popular royal-in-law into unwanted headlines and fueled rumors she could face criminal charges under France’s strict gun laws.

The drama proved overblown, however, when the photographer later said he knew all along the gun was a fake and never filed a police complaint.  Paris police also confirmed they are not investigating the incident.

“I regret enormously that this incident happened, and especially that Pippa has been subject to the subsequent attention through no fault of her own.  I have apologized to her for this,” de Soultrait said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Pippa Middleton Caught in Gun-Wielding Scandal

Chris Jackson/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Pippa Middleton, the sister-in-law of England's presumptive future king, could face criminal charges after a male companion was reportedly caught brandishing a gun and allegedly pointing it at a photographer following the pair in Paris.

Middleton, 27, was in the passenger seat of an Audi convertible with three male friends Sunday when the driver allegedly reached for a semi-automatic gun and jokingly aimed it at a paparazzi following them, London newspaper The Sun reported.

The image, released to the Sun by the French photographer at whom the pistol was aimed, shows Middleton, the younger sister of the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, looking back at the paparazzo and grinning as her friend, the driver, reaches down and aims the gun.

The paper reported that the Paris Judicial Police department is "poised" to launch a probe into the incident.  Charges could result in prison sentences of up to seven years for all four people in the car, or a two-year sentence if the gun turns out to be a fake, a source told the Sun.

"If the evidence points to her involvement, she will be prosecuted.  Anybody involved in the illegal use of a handgun in public is liable to arrest and interrogation," the source said.

The French photographer is still weighing whether to file a formal police complaint, the Sun's royal editor, Duncan Larcombe, confirmed Monday on ABC's Good Morning America.

"We're told he isn't ruling anything out yet," Larcombe said.

Middleton was reportedly in Paris to attend a costume birthday party at the Chez Raspoutine as a guest of fashion label owner Arthur de Soultrait Pari.

The gaffe is a rare misstep for Middleton, who was dubbed "Her Royal Hotness" and became a target of paparazzi after she wowed onlookers as a bridesmaid at her sister's wedding to Prince William last April.

Buckingham Palace, which does not officially represent Middleton because she is not a member of the royal family, has not commented on the incident.

"I think often by what they're not saying can often say more and I think there are some very nervous people behind the scenes right now," Larcombe said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Da Vinci Painting Was Overcleaned, Say Louvre Experts

Top Photo Group/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- Two top art experts in France have resigned from the Louvre advisory committee responsible for restoring the Leonardo da Vinci's "The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne," the Guardian reports.  The resignation stems from their protest concerning the artwork's cleaning.  

Segolene Bergeon Langle and Jean-Pierre Cuzin decided to disassociate themselves from the committee believing the restoration had gone too far and left the 500-year-old painting more luminous than da Vinci may have intended.

Bergeon Langle and Cuzin both declined to comment beyond confirming their resignation, but a Louvre source has also shared concerns the artwork may have been overcleaned, the Guardian reports. The sources says they will, however, wait to hear the decision after another expert viewing to take place Jan. 3.  The museum itself maintains its restoration process has not harmed the artwork.

"Rarely has a restoration been as well prepared, discussed and effected, and never will it have benefited from such effective techniques," Vincent Pomarede, the Louvre's head of paintings, said, according to the Guardian. "The first assessment revealed the excellent state of conservation … comforting us in the choices made."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No More Kisses for Oscar Wilde’s Tomb -- Oscar Wilde’s famous tomb in Paris will now be getting a lot less love. Devoted fans of the The Importance of Being Earnest author have long journeyed to his tomb in the city’s famed Pere Lachaise Cemetery to plant a lipstick smooch on the tombstone, but not anymore.

On Wednesday, the 111th anniversary of Wilde’s death, the cemetery is unveiling a cleaned-up monument with a glass barrier around it to prevent tourists from kissing the stone.

Cemetery officials determined that the grease from the kisses was damaging and eroding the stone, according to the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper.

“Every cleaning was causing a bit more stone to wear away,” Wilde’s grandson Merlin Holland told the paper.

Holland called a lipstick a “serious problem.”

“From a technical point of view, the tomb is close to being irreparably damaged,” he said. “Each cleaning has rendered the stone more porous necessitating a yet more drastic cleaning.”

Wilde was buried there in 1900, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that literary buffs began kissing the monument. Authorities imposed a fine of $12,000 for kissing or writing on the tomb, but it proved very difficult to enforce.

The famed cemetery was established in 1804 and is one of the most visited in the world, according to a U.S. website dedicated to the cemetery created by the authors of the book Meet Me at Pere Lachaise. It is 118 acres and houses over 70,000 monuments.

Other notable people buried there include singer Edith Piaf, painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, writer Marcel Proust, dramatist Moliere and musician Jim Morrison.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


‘Carlos the Jackal’ on Trial in Paris for 1980 Bombings

A photo taken in the 1970s shows Venezuelan terrorist "Carlos the Jackal," whose real name is Ilich Ramirez. AFP/Getty Images(PARIS) -- One of the world’s most wanted fugitives, accused of the fatal bombings in France during the 1980s, was on the stand again Monday in Paris.

Venezuelan Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, 62, was on trial for the alleged connection with the bombings that left 11 dead and more than 100 injured.

Dubbed “Carlos the Jackal” by The Guardian in a reference to the assassin protagonist in Frederick Forsyth’s novel The Day of the Jackel, Ramirez has served a life sentence in France since 1997, when he was charged with the death of two French secret agents and an informant in 1975.

Ramirez identified himself in court Monday as “a professional revolutionary.”

He will appear before a seven-judge terrorism panel during the six-week trial.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Dominique Strauss-Kahn Returns Home to France

Shannon Stapleton-Pool/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Former International Monetary Chief Dominique Strauss Kahn is back home in France today for the first time since a New York hotel maid accused him of sexual assault in May.

The French presidential hopeful was greeted by camera flashes upon his return to Paris.

Last month, a judge in New York threw out the sexual assault case brought against him.

The ruling came after the judge rejected a plea by Strauss-Kahn's accuser, hotel maid Naifissatou Diallo, to have the Manhattan district attorney's office replaced by a special prosecutor.

New York Criminal Court Judge Michael Obus granted a motion from prosecutors to dismiss all charges against the international power broker known simply as DSK, ending a highly publicized prosecution without answering the question of what really happened between Strauss-Kahn and the maid assigned to clean his hotel suite.

"I see no basis to deny that application" to dismiss the charges, Obus said. An appellate court upheld the decision.

"These past two and a half months have been a nightmare for me and my family," Strauss-Kahn said outside his Manhattan apartment after the ruling. "I am most deeply grateful to my wife and family who have gone through this ordeal with me."

What was once viewed as a "strong" case based on an "unwavering" accuser fell apart amid "substantial" questions about the maid's credibility.

Assistant District Attorneys Joan Illuzzi-Orbon and Artie McConnell said the accuser "provided shifting and inconsistent versions of the events" and therefore they can't be sure "of what actually happened" "We were no longer able to credit her version beyond a reasonable doubt" Illuzzi-Orbon said in court.

"We respectfully request that the court dismiss the indictment," she said.

During the investigation into the incident, prosecutors say, Diallo presented three different versions of the alleged assault and lied under oath.

Her credibility "cannot withstand the most basic evaluation," prosecutors said in the motion.

"Joan Illuzzi basically told Ms. Diallo that they were dismissing the case, claiming because she lied to them," Diallo's attorney, Kenneth Thompson said. "They totally disrespected Ms. Diallo by walking out on her while she was trying to ask them a question."

Strauss-Kahn had long maintained he was innocent of the charges.

"We have maintained from the beginning of this case that our client is innocent," Strauss-Kahn's lawyers, William W. Taylor and Benjamin Brafman, said in a statement. "We also maintained that there were many reasons to believe that Mr. Strauss-Kahn's accuser was not credible. Mr. Strauss-Kahn and his family are grateful that the district attorney's office took our concerns seriously and concluded on its own that this case cannot proceed further."

Thompson accused Vance's office of treating his client "abusively." He said the office failed to refute a New York Post article that called Diallo a hooker.

Thompson also claimed the DA's office was predisposed to dismissing a case it once called "strong."

Strauss-Kahn was a favorite to win next year's presidential elections in France before his arrest. Now polls show four out of five people don't won't him to run. He faces an investigation into allegations of attempted rape in France.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


No Prospect of Ground Troops in Libya, Clinton Says

Win McNamee/Getty Images(PARIS) -- During an interview with French television channel TF1 Thursday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked about France’s decision to send attack helicopters to Libya (she wouldn’t confirm) and whether that would be a first step towards sending foreign ground troops into the fight.
“We will not commit any troops, but I don’t believe that either France or Great Britain are committing troops by adding, if they do, these attack helicopters.  They’re clearly meant to support what is happening to protect civilians on the ground and the opposition fighters to protect their positions.  But we’ve made clear from the beginning we want to follow the words of the Security Council resolution, and it’s very clear that there is no authority for ground troops, and we respect that,” Clinton replied.
Clinton had some positive things to say about the Libyan rebels, once described as ragtag, outgunned, and mismatched. She also pointed out, as she did earlier this week, that the U.S. flies 25 percent of the sorties over Libyan -- an interesting suggestion since the Obama administration has sought to downplay its involvement in Libya as it debates Congress over its obligations under the War Powers Act.
“What’s been most encouraging is the way that the opposition has become better organized -- organized civilian efforts, but also better organized militarily.  And the ability to withstand the pounding they took from Gadhafi’s forces in Misrata was a real turning point, and we believe that with the increased military tempo that has been going on -- and the United States still flies 25 percent of every day’s sorties, so we are deeply involved in supporting the mission -- that we’re going to see some changes in the weeks ahead,” she said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio