Monsieur Fillon’s Holiday

Another day, another French cabinet minister/Middle Eastern dictator vacation scandal. This one involving Prime Minister François Fillon. The Financial Times reports:  Mr Fillon came under attack after it emerged that he and his family had accepted an invitation from President Hosni Mubarak to spend the new year in Egypt at Cairo’s expense. The news added ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images.
CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images.
CRIS BOURONCLE/AFP/Getty Images.

Another day, another French cabinet minister/Middle Eastern dictator vacation scandal. This one involving Prime Minister François Fillon. The Financial Times reports

Mr Fillon came under attack after it emerged that he and his family had accepted an invitation from President Hosni Mubarak to spend the new year in Egypt at Cairo’s expense. The news added to a growing sense of public anger over the close links between some of France’s most respected politicians and the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt.

Michèle Alliot-Marie, foreign minister, first drew attention to those links when it emerged that France had offered the Tunisian regime of Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali its savoir faire in controlling the protests that unseated him.

Another day, another French cabinet minister/Middle Eastern dictator vacation scandal. This one involving Prime Minister François Fillon. The Financial Times reports

Mr Fillon came under attack after it emerged that he and his family had accepted an invitation from President Hosni Mubarak to spend the new year in Egypt at Cairo’s expense. The news added to a growing sense of public anger over the close links between some of France’s most respected politicians and the regimes of Tunisia and Egypt.

Michèle Alliot-Marie, foreign minister, first drew attention to those links when it emerged that France had offered the Tunisian regime of Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali its savoir faire in controlling the protests that unseated him.

Mr Fillon’s office said the trip to Egypt had taken place between December 26 and January 2, before the protests began, and had never been kept secret. The Fillon family had been housed by the Egyptian government, which also offered a Nile cruise and a flight to the temple of Abu Simbel.

President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has dealt with his own vacation mini-scandals in the past, has instructed his ministers to vacation in France from now on:

“Contemporary demands in matters of public morality have considerably strengthened in recent years. What was common a few years ago can shock today,” the president said. “We must understand this and draw the consequences. From now on, for their holidays, members of the government should favour France.”

In a move to distance itself from the Mubarak regime, France has suspended arms sales to Egypt this week, though these sales have been fairly minimal in recent years.

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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