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Sun Jul 26, 2015, 10:11 AM

French Government Sells Out Citizenry to Coddle Saudi Royals

(WolfStreet) As Europe’s Mediterranean region bakes under the rays of an inordinately hot summer sun, French authorities have taken the rather unusual step of closing the small public beach of Vallauris, a charming little town on the French Riviera. The reason has enraged many local residents: the village is expecting a visit from the Saudi King, Salmán Bin Abdelaziz, who owns an enormous mansion overlooking the beach. And Salmán and his entourage do not want to share the sand with the locals.

Local authorities cite “security reasons” for erecting metal fences to prevent the public from accessing not only the beach but also a tunnel under the railway line connecting the town with the coastline. According to the sub-prefect of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, Philippe Castanet, the closure of the public beach was necessary to avoid putting at risk the head of state of “a country at war,” suggesting that the more bellicose the state, the more special privileges its head of state can expect to receive during a visit to 21st century France.

The story is laced with irony. It was 226 years ago to this very month that France’s starving peasants and opportunistic bourgeoisie brought the country’s ancien régime to its knees – literally! From its ashes rose the three cornerstones of modern European civilization: respect for private property, democracy, and the rule of law. Now French authorities are offering the royal family of one of the world’s most despotic regimes privileges that would have the occupants of the Pantheon (including Rousseau, Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Emile Zola) turning in their graves.

Those privileges – including the right to build an elevator connecting the public beach to Salmán’s private mansion – would have been unimaginable just 20 or 30 years ago. Indeed, in the 1980s the Saudi royal family’s security detail tried to block a public path running alongside the beach property, but local authorities forced them to reopen it. Now, 30 years later, those same authorities, funded by taxpayer money, are working side by side with Saudi security forces to help the King and his entourage take full control of a public beach.

Money Shouts

The message is clear: the interests of a foreign head of state are far more important than the so-called rights of the 28,000 regular inhabitants of a small French coastal resort. Perhaps next time the King will just buy the beach outright and be done with it. No doubt the French government would be more than happy to sell up. After all, whatever your language – Arabic or French – money talks. And in the case of Saudi Arabia, still the world’s biggest oil producer, it shouts. ............(more)


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