Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn received a mixed welcome in his return to Paris after sexual assault charges were dropped in New York.
Strauss-Kahn, once a Socialist Party leader favored to beat French President Nicolas Sarkozy in the next election, was back in the French capital Sunday.
Many friends and supporters of Strauss-Kahn, who is Jewish, have expressed relief and joy at his freedom, especially in the low-income, northern Paris suburb of Sarcelles, which he once served as mayor and which has a large Jewish community. But 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 that was deemed inappropriate but only mildly sanctioned by the IMF.
Also, Strauss-Kahn’s Jewish background recently stirred the ongoing 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 that 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 again raised the question.
“This morning I heard something really strong from a listener who explained that DSK was supported by a Jewish lobby,” Mazet said. He then 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.