September 4, 2011
Strauss-Kahn returns to Paris to mixed welcome
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn returned to Paris for the first time since being charged with sexual assault in New York.
With the charges dropped, Strauss-Kahn, who was once a Socialist Party leader favored to beat French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the next election and who is also Jewish, returned home Sunday to a mixed welcome.
Many of his friends and supporters have expressed relief and joy at his newfound freedom, especially in the low-income, northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles, where Strauss-Kahn was once mayor, and where a large Jewish community resides. But at the same time, polls show that the French do not want the former IMF chief participating in this year’s political campaign, even as a sideline commentator.
Though rape charges were dropped, another claim of attempted rape awaits DSK, as he is called in Paris. The New York scandal also brought to light his long history of questionable sexual behavior, including a relationship with a subordinate, deemed inappropriate, but only mildly sanctioned by the IMF.
In addition, Strauss-Kahn’s Jewish background has recently, and for the first time, agitated the on-going debate about the impact of his
behavior, leading up to his return. A host on French Radio-Sud, on Aug. 22 asked for comments on remarks earlier that day by a listener who said Strauss-Kahn was supported “by a Jewish lobby.” Those initial comments had been quickly cut off by the host who first heard them, but later in the afternoon, radio host Eric Mazet raised
the question again.
“This morning I heard something really strong from a listener, who explained that DSK was supported by a Jewish lobby,” said Mazet. Then he asked listeners, “Is DSK supported by the Jews?” Some responded by saying they believed he was.
The radio was lightly sanctioned by the French Superior Audio-Visual Council, which demanded a hearing with the show’s executives scheduled for Sept. 7. The group said Mazet’s comments were “of the nature to encourage commentary susceptible to taking on a discriminatory character.”
The National Bureau of Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism also said it filed an official complaint with French prosecutors, against the radio station.