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Belarus Protests, Greece Migrants, Christophe Girard: Your Monday Briefing

2020-08-17 05:32:25
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Good morning.

We’re covering antigovernment protests in Belarus, Greece’s hard line tactics against maritime migration and the abuse allegations facing a French politician.

When a small group of demonstrators gathered to demand the resignation of Christophe Girard, the deputy mayor of Paris, one stood out: Aniss Hmaïd.

The demonstrators wanted Mr. Girard gone for his longstanding support of the pedophile writer Gabriel Matzneff. But Mr. Hmaïd, 46, said he had a more personal reason to be there. Starting at age 15 in Tunisia, Mr. Girard engaged him in a decade-long abusive relationship that left lasting psychological scars, he told The New York Times.

He said that Mr. Girard sexually abused him when he was 16, and then over the following years coerced him for sex on about 20 occasions. In return, Mr. Hmaïd said, Mr. Girard employed him occasionally as a houseboy in his summer home in southern France and gave him temporary jobs at the Yves Saint Laurent design house, where Mr. Girard was a top executive before entering politics.

Mr. Girard has called the accusations slander. But he confirmed that he employed Mr. Hmaïd in the 1990s.

Context: Mr. Girard is the most high-profile figure to be caught in the fallout of the Matzneff scandal, which started this year when one of the writer’s victims, Vanessa Springora published a book chronicling how Mr. Matzneff took advantage of her when she was 14 and he was 50. The case has set off a reckoning over sex, gender and power in France.

Quote of note: “He took advantage of my youth, of my young age and everything for his sexual pleasures,” Mr. Hmaïd said. “It ruined my life, in fact.”

European football: A thrashing in the Champions League quarterfinals showed Bayern Munich at the peak of its powers and Barcelona at the end of the line.

What we’re reading: This Bloomberg article, headlined “Oil Companies Wonder if It’s Worth Looking for Oil Anymore.” Andrea Kannapell, the Briefings editor, said, “I noticed it because the environmentalist and writer Bill McKibben tweeted his gratitude for ‘the work so many have done to get us to this point!’”

Alex, you wrote a story last summer where you examined Harris, how she thinks about governing and what her philosophy is. What does she think the government is capable of doing?


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