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Press Review 4 February 2009

by Mark Rodden

Article published on the 2009-02-04 Latest update 2009-02-04 10:01 TU

The centrist daily Le Monde carries a full page interview with former French footballer Lilian Thuram today.

Best known for the World Cup and European Championship titles he won with France, the 37-year-old has always had an interest in politics and when he retired this summer there was speculation he might become more involved.

Indeed, he confirms to Le Monde that he turned down an offer from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to become Minister for Diversity in December. But he doesn't rule out a move into politics in the future.

The former Juventus and Barcelona player says he had a long discusion with Sarkozy and his chief of staff.

But "for obvious reasons", according to Thuram, he could only turn the offer down. In the past, Thuram has often criticised Sarkozy's policies on immigration.

The former French defender was born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe and he told Le Monde that he is extremely concerned by the two weeks of strikes there.

Guadaloupe is a French territory and Thuram believes that the crippling protests over the cost of living there could be replicated in France.

However, right wing Le Figaro reports today, that the atmosphere in the country has improved somewhat after the arrival of Yves Jégo, secretary of state for French overseas territories.

Staying with the effects of the economic crisis, financial daily Les Echos leads with the news that the number of unemployed people in Spain rose by 200,000 in January, bringing the total to 3.3 million.

Meanwhile, left leaning Liberation devotes a number of pages to Barack Obama's first two weeks as US President.

It says Obama has already imposed his style, shown himself willing to make tough decisions and has been almost faultless so far. He is also regarded, according to the paper, as a "righter of wrongs".

The US President also features in a number of other French papers, with Catholic daily La Croix examining how peace can be achieved in the Middle East.

Le Figaro's front page headline suggests that Iran's decision to launch a domestically-made satellite into orbit this week is designed to test Obama's intentions regarding Tehran.

Returning to Le Monde, and it includes a report from India that examines whether yoga is compatible with the Islamic faith.

Some religious leaders have banned Muslims from practicing yoga but it has been given the thumbs up by the respected Darul Uloom Deoband Islamic school in India.

In Indonesia and Malaysia it was suggested that the centuries-old practice, which originated in India, was "unislamic" because one of the accompanying chants of yoga has been associated with the Hindu religion.

However, the Darul Uloom Deoband school says that, if people are worried about the religious connotations, they can chant to Allah or God instead.

Ultimately, a spokesman for the school said that yoga is a healthy hobby that is beneficial to all of mankind.