Media Watch 12/1/15

By Rowan Williams

In France, President Francois Hollande is to host a crisis meeting in the wake of three days of terror attacks in Paris that left 17 people dead. The meeting will discuss national security, and attempt to find out how the three gunmen were able to plan and carry out the attacks, despite being known to have links to international terror groups. All three gunmen were shot dead by police on Friday in two separate siege events. Since the attack, a video has emerged of one gunman, Amedy Coulibaly, pledging his allegiance to Islamic extremist group the Islamic State (IS). 3.7 million people are estimated to have attended rallies across France on Sunday, in a show of unity and defiance against the attacks. Over 40 world leaders also attended the march in Paris. The French government has announced increased security for France’s Jewish schools, with police and soldiers to be deployed. Britain is also on heightened alert in the wake of the attacks, with Prime Minister David Cameron to hold a security meeting over fears a similar attack could take place in Britain. Authorities are continuing to search for Coulibaly’s partner, Hayat Boumeddiene, though reports from Turkey suggest that Boumeddiene may have passed through the country en route to Syria before the attacks took place.

Indonesian divers have recovered the ‘black box’ flight recorder from crashed AirAsia Flight QZ8501. The flight’s cockpit voice recorder has been located, but lies under heavy wreckage and has yet to be recovered. Flight QZ8501 vanished in bad weather on 28 December, leaving no survivors from the 162 people on board. It is now believed that the aircraft exploded on hitting the sea, though further analysis of the flight recorder will reveal the exact circumstances of the incident. Following analysis of the flight recorder, a preliminary report on the causes of the crash can be expected in approximately a month, while the full report could take as long as a year. With only 48 of 162 bodies recovered so far, however, some families of the victims have asked authorities to concentrate their efforts on retrieving bodies of loved ones over investigating the crash’s causes.

In China’s Xinjiang Province, six people are reported to have been shot dead by police after attempting to detonate a bomb, local media has reported. The incident took place in Shule county in Kashgar prefecture, where police approached a man reported to have been ‘suspicious’ by residents. The man then attacked police and attempted to set off his explosive device, prompting police to shoot him. Five other people then reportedly attempted to set off the device and were all shot by police. The incident, while not independently confirmed, comes two months after an attack in Xinjiang in which terrorists threw explosives into a street market, killing 15 people.

The Papers

Today’s front pages are dominated by news of Sunday’s unity rallies in Paris held after three days of terror attacks last week that left 17 people dead. The Financial Times leads with a straightforward headline on the story, writing that foreign leaders joined 3.7 million French in a “show of defiance over terror killings”. The international community was seen to ‘unite’ behind French President Francois Hollande, the paper noted. The Times leads with the headline “United we stand”, reporting that marchers chanted “Nous sommes Charlie” in support of Charlie Hebdo – the satirical magazine whose offices were the victim of a terror attack last week that killed 12 people. The widow of one gunman is reported to have fled to Syria “to join Islamic State”, the paper adds. The Guardian leads with the headline “A nation united against terror”, while the objective of the rally was “restating what is best in Europe… as well as overcoming barbarism and xenophobia”. The Daily Telegraph leads with the words “Liberty, equality, fraternity”, while The Independent leads with the same headline but in French. Tricolore flags were “raised across the country”, The Daily Telegraph observes, while The Independent writes that yesterday’s rally showed Paris coming together in a “celebration of freedom”.

British Media on China

On China’s pork crackdown: over 110 people have been arrested by Chinese police for suspicion of selling contaminated pork products. The BBC writes that the scandal, in which sellers bought diseased pigs at low prices, “is the latest in a series of scandals that have dented public trust in China’s food safety standards”. The Guardian carries an agency piece on the story, reporting that China’s food safety watchdog has “pledged stronger oversight” in light of the incident.

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