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Posts Tagged Nepotism

Non-Violence Versus The System

 Over a century and a half ago, Claude Frédéric Bastiat, a political economist, a liberal theorist, and member of the French Assembly warned:

 “When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.”

Non-Violence Versus The System


September 03, 2014

      To settle disputes, parties follow universally accepted rules. So the current standoff arises from opposed perceptions of democracy. Some take human rights very seriously, not just on paper. For others it’s a convenient label slapped onto an established feudal and patronage system. What some see as elitist entitlement, others see as corruption and nepotism. Entire economies can be dynastic fiefdoms or special-interest cabals; police and bureaucracy are merely tools of enforcement. Democracy is perfectly adhered to in appearance and form. — Except that the media exposes its ugly, hidden side.


     Some sections of relatively comfortable civil society insist that  the ‘democratic process’ should not be ‘derailed’ under any circumstances;  but  that’s exactly what protestors don’t want either; that they be activated  instead.       There is deafening silence on the part of some ‘democratic process.’ Even a section of civil society working for social and human rights don’t see the dead-end reality of double standards; of laws selectively applied  to the weak but not the strong. The Model Town case is no big deal; nor  the other underhand police actions that followed!        Diversionary tactics swept primary issues – basic needs and curtailing corruption – under the carpet. Not once did the government offer  to correct these with clear-cut plans. Yet revolutionaries — out to undo the status quo – are expected to follow ‘rules’ that government itself  refuses to. After two generations, and millions having passed away  without  ever knowing a decent life, many are unwilling to wait for the  turtle-slow ‘process’ to bring results.        After 17 days of peaceful, determined non-violence, viewers watched in horror and incredulity the unexpected all-night assault that unfolded on television screens, with militarized riot police using methods usually reserved for enemy combatants on battlefields.  Comparisons flashed through countless minds. How is this qualitatively different from the way the Israelis enclose and oppress the hapless, unarmed Palestinians in Gaza? Or was it more like Iraq, where phosphorous and other chemical weapons were used, passed off here as  ordinary tear gas? Or did it resemble the infamous 1919 Jallianwala Bagh  (Amritsar) massacre when Colonel Dyer and his men mercilessly gunned down  a  crowd trapped in a walled-off area?        A non-violent movement gives despotic governments a bad image. Once  the idea is understood, non-violence makes it easier for the poor and  weak to join up and swell the ranks. So it becomes necessary to nip it in the bud – to drive people to a breaking point that can spark violence in the  most non-violent of persons, when opportunistic mobs can no longer be  differentiated from real political workers.      When the call was made to move to the lawns of the Prime Minister’s  house, it was touching to watch the women carrying their babies, their  rolled-up mats, their water-cans and bundles of clothes, to trustingly walk forward. That day the crowd had swelled to a peak: an unexpected  side-effect of the ‘dharna’ was that it served as ‘langar’ (free food kitchen) for the curious or unemployed looking for a free meal.        Several times during the 17 days when police contingents would suddenly appear and surround the protestors, there would be a palpable “silence of the lambs” – before police relaxed or melted away. Protestors were lulled into confidence by government statements that they’d never be fired upon. Unfortunately, their non-violence made them sitting targets.       It takes a particular kind of person to be violent on order without any compunction whatsoever. If lucky, soldiers trained for war may never see battle, while others return as psychological wrecks because they belatedly discover they can’t stomach killing and atrocities. After all, people are not born violent, cruel and sadistic. The potential may be  dormant, but degree and willingness vary. Some cops are able to impersonalize the violence they inflict on others. Some come into it for livelihood because of a lack of choice; some to acquire power which they don’t otherwise have, so that others can’t push them around. Few choose it so they can be Robin Hoods.        What kind were those involved in the Model Town and PM House operations? It’s a frightening thought, especially when it’s been going on and growing for almost seven decades. With fellow-citizens like these, who needs enemies? With ‘democracy’ like this, who needs martial law? Some emperors become so devoid of guilt and shame, they no longer care about being seen without any clothes on. An old adage from Bengal baldly summed up the attitude of ancient kings: “It’s because I am shameless, the  kingdom is entirely mine.”       One question remains unanswered. When unarmed protestors, including women and children were shot from the back and shelled all night, why didn’t the army step in — not to declare martial law, but to stop the Punjab Police assault? Can’t citizens expect that much without compromising the army when their own government attacks them?         Hopefully PTI and PAT have learnt many lessons:

  •      – don’t trust party-hoppers;
  •      – playing cards aren’t shown off once dealt;
  •      – all boats shouldn’t be burnt; and
  •      – chickens shouldn’t be publicly counted before they’re hatched.

They inadvertently armed the sharp-speaking lawyer, PPP’s Aitzaz Ahsan, who set the tone for other speakers to safely follow, to take pot-shots at the PM to grab away some bargaining chips while leaving the dynastic parties of the three provinces intact (in the same breath undermining PAT and PTI – albeit to an already captive National Assembly).

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The Wind that Shakes the Barley! By Dr. Haider Mehdi



The Wind that Shakes the Barley!

By Dr. Haider Mehdi


I find it hard to avoid the conclusion that the Pakistan of August 2014 is well on its way toward a decisive journey towards real democracy – or at least, a brave attempt is in the wind to initiate a determined and resolute process toward that cherished national goal.  The recent six-year so-called democratic experience in Pakistan (2008-2014) has clearly demonstrated that the present brand of so-called democratic dispensation can no longer work in this country. 


Let us try to take an unbiased look at the recent political events leading to the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March on Islamabad. A segment of the incumbent power elite may disapprove of Khan-Qadri methods (the status quo forces never approve of changes), but viewed from a purely Realpolitik angle, the Khan-Qadri demands for a revolutionary change in the current political system and its manifested status quo-oriented traditional political culture is absolutely justified because this political structure is completely incompatible with the needs of present-day Pakistan. In many ways, the PPP-PMLN so-called democratic era (2008-2014) and its failures have contributed immensely to bringing about this perceptual change in the political consciousness of this nation, most specifically of the younger generation, who have rejected, out-of-hand, the totality of the existing political dispensation.


And why should not the entire nation and specifically the younger generation feel this way?  Imagine in the last 6 long years of this sham democracy completely dominated by the PPP-PMLN Right-wing vested-interests  status quo-oriented foreign-patronized leadership, even a national debate on a fresh developmental discourse to give this nation a “people-centric” socio-economic political administrative reform agenda has not seriously taken place!  The PPP leadership, during its tenure, remained essentially oligarchic and non-reformist, while the incumbent PMLN leaders have reached the ultimate limits of plutocracy. As I stated in one of my previous articles, “In precise terms, it means that individual wealthy people exercise a combination of economic and political power, and consequently, have overall dramatic impact on the entire shape and structure of society.” Much of the political capital and financial expertise of the PMLN incumbent leadership has been injected into mega-projects inconsistent with the urgent and present needs of the overall society.  On top of that, there appears to be commercial vested-interests involved in the Rawalpindi-Islamabad mega- transport project and all other major entrepreneurial initiatives taken by the PMLN national management.


The questions are: Where are the national priorities of the PMLN leadership? Does the PMLN leadership truly understand the nature of the real issues and challenges that are being faced by the common folks of this country on a daily basis? Do the PMLN national managers have enough managerial competence to deal with and resolve fundamental socio-economic problems of Pakistan’s ordinary citizens? Is the incumbent PMLN leadership equipped with the necessary expertise to deliver “people-centric” ideological and knowledgeable solutions for sustainable socio-economic development of this nation? Does the incumbent PMLN leadership appreciate the precise requirements of a democratic doctrine suitable for a present-day modern democratic society? Do they truly understand, given their rigid mindset and traditional political conduct, the management of the complex, complicated modern society? I’m afraid they don’t – and that is precisely the crux of the problem of the incumbent PMLN leadership.


What today’s Pakistan needs is a proposed set of comprehensive goals that should be unprecedented in their discourse towards a “people-centric” socio-economic ideological future. Taken in their totality, these goals should clearly reflect an integrated and transformative agenda which builds and expands on the interlinked socio-economic challenges that Pakistani society faces today. It is important that the Pakistani state and its democratic institutions commit to eradicating poverty for everyone everywhere in the country. The Pakistani state must commit itself to a human development agenda targeted towards eliminating socio-economic inequalities in the society, promoting rapid economic growth, creating jobs, streamlining plans for healthy and environmentally clean urbanization, resolving the energy crisis and planning sustainable consumption and production levels, and giving this nation a self-sufficient and self-reliant economic system. Above and beyond, the Pakistani state must ensure and promote peace, justice and institution-building in the country. 


However, the unfortunate ground reality is that the recent so-called democratic era (2008-2014), of the PPP-PMLN shows no appreciable history of where even initial or preliminary steps towards these important national goals mentioned above were taken. The fact of the matter is that the PPP-PMLN record has been extremely dismal on this count and, I believe, that the incumbent PMLN leadership does not have the managerial capabilities and political management capacities to deliver on these fundamental and essential elements needed in a democratic society.  


The latest irony of the PMLN 14-month rule is that its leadership has dragged the country into an environment of chaos.  There has been institutional polarization, divisions and conflicts all over the political spectrum since they took over governance after the so-call massive public mandate (now openly challenged as rigged and stolen by meticulous manipulative tactics).  The fact of the matter is that present-day Pakistani democracy lies in shambles.  The people of Pakistan are suffering while the economic and political power of this country’s incumbent ruling elite has been on an ascendancy – but that’s about to take a nosedive. 


And that’s where the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March figures into the political mix with its much-awaited complex and far-reaching political consequences. Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri must be credited, at least, with giving this nation a highly acute awareness and a highly-developed political consciousness that there are fundamental things wrong with the present so-called democratic system, and offering a visionary outlook and real-time democratic-oriented actions to demonstrate and prove that people can and will force a change in the ways that this country has been managed so far. The PMLN cannot escape the inevitable that is bound to happen in tomorrow’s Pakistan in whatever shape and manner it may occur. I need to say no more about Imran Khan and Dr. Qadri: I know, as a social scientist, history will judge them and it may judge them as the most prominent and phenomenal revolutionary leaders and actors in the struggle for democratic freedom in Pakistan.


Times have changed, and so has the political consciousness of this nation – and so will the nature of democratic politics in this country. There is no going back now – the day of judgment is already upon us – it can be delayed but cannot be set aside indefinitely.  That is what we are going to learn from the August 14th “Azadi”-“Inqilab” March. 


Hold your breath – In the air is the wind that will shake the barley!

Dr Mehdi’s Note

Gracious Friends,

Following is my latest article that appeared in today’s The Nation  http://www.nation.com.pk/E-Paper/lahore/2014-08-14/page-7.  Your comments are welcome.
Warmest Regards,

Dr. Haider Mehdi


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Fine man gone down the drain: Zaka Ashraf: From farmer to PCB chairman

Anjum Khan's photo.

Zaka Ashraf: From farmer to PCB chairman


Zaka is President of Zarai Taraqiyati Bank and decision of his appointment was made in meeting with President Zardari. PHOTO: EXPRESS

The much awaited, controversial and politically influenced post of Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board has finally been filled. Ladies and gentleman, put your hands together for Mr Zaka Ashraf, a man who has had absolutely nothing to do with cricket!

Nice job Mr President – out of the multiple candidates presented to you, you have successfully chosen the worst one.

Having said so, lets look back on Butt’s tenure as the chairman of the PCB to gauge whether Pakistani cricket can, indeed, fall lower than it already has.

The damage done

Ijaz Butt has faced a great amount of criticism based on his decision making and his leadership. Tme and time again he has been incapable of controlling cricketing affairs. An apt example of this would be the disastrous and shameful attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009. Moreover, the biggest mishap in the history of Pakistan cricket occurred during his tenure -the spot fixing scandal in 2010 in England has brought a tremendous amount of shame to our country. In addition to this six captains were changed, numerous selectors were tried and coaches and managers struggled to find consistency in their service all under the watchful eye of Ijaz Butt. Yes, Pakistan did win the T20 World Cup and they did reach the semi finals of the World Cup during his reign.

Now, in steps Zaka Ashraf and one is left wondering whether we were better off under Ijaz Butt.

The new man

It has been proven that being the friend of a president is always lucrative. Zaka Ashraf is a living, breathing example.

Moving from managing family farms and sugar mills to becoming the chairman of an agricultural bank ZTBL definitely makes sense. However, when one moves from farming to sports, something doesn’t seem quite right.

Zaka Ashraf has never been part of the cricketing world. Thus the announcement of him, of all people, becoming chairman of the PCB is horrifying news to professionals and everyone associated with the cricket. Ijaz Butt, in this case, was a better candidate as he at least played 8 cricket matches. Zaka, on the other hand, does not even meet this meager standard of experience – he has no reason to be the chairman of PCB. Granted, Mr Ashraf has been a great businessman and has handled his business affairs with grace.

However, is this a reason enough to make him Chairman of the PCB?

Left behind again

Zaheer Abbas should have been the logical choice. He has plenty of experience given that he has played 78 Test matches, 62 ODIs, 459 first class, and 323 List A matches. Moreover, he even showed interest in the post. However, he lacked the most important qualification – connections.

I believe that Zaka Ashraf could have hardly watched a cricket match with the keen interest of someone with 42 years of experience.

However, when appointed Ashraf stated:

“I’ll work day and night to live up to the president’s expectations and pay back the confidence he’s placed in me.”

He also added that he would select players on merit and try to improve relations with international boards. With these words, let us indeed hope that he can lift Pakistani cricket out of the ashes of humiliation; let us hope that Pakistani cricket does not ever witness a tenure worse than Ijaz Butt’s.

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MERITOCRACY IN NAWAZ SHARIF GOVT: Mussadaq Malik: A Carpetbagger US Citizen/Boston Pharmacist Becomes Minister of Water & Energy in Pakistan


Mussadak Malik-Mufaad Parast Carpetbagger



Nawaz Sharif is a bungler and has no knack for recognizing talent. Instead, he uses his relationship with Jagirdars, Zamindars,Waderahs, and Bureaucrats to select their kith and kin for plump appointments.

He gives two hoots about the people of Pakistan.

His efforts are geared towards consolidating his power for the next term. Nawaz Sharif is like a malignancy, which spreads its malevolence through connections.

Mussadak Malik is a classic example of Nawaz Sharif’s Nepotism and Cronyism.

It could happen only in Pakistan. Mussadaq Malik (Special Assistant to the PM and Minister of Water and Power) is a square peg in a round hole.

Mussadaq Malik has a B.Pharmacy from the University of Punjab.

His doctorate is in Pharmacy Administration.

Unknown-4He is a US Citizen, who to date as far as we know,he has not given up his US citizenship.

He spent most of his time in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was unemployed most of the time.

His wife is from one of the most influential families in Pakistan, so Mussadak is riding her coattails.

Mussadak knows as much about Power, as Malala Yousufzai knows about the mathematical formulation of a general theory of relativity,including the gravitation as a determiner of the curvature of a space-time continuum.Mussadaq has a gift of gab or rather as we say in the US, “He is a B.S. Artist.”.

He can make killer powerpoints presentations, but when it comes for execution, he is tremendously lacking.

How sad for 180 million Pakistanis that their biggest problem of Energy is being tackled by a person least qualified to solve it.

May be he will develop High Energy Capsule for Pakistanis, so they can get rid of the Anxiety created by Energy shortfall in Pakistan.


Nawaz Sharif is a bungler and has no knack for recognizing talent. Instead, he uses his relationship with Jagirdars, Zamindars,Waderahs, and Bureaucrats to select their kith and kin for plump appointments.

He gives two hoots about the people of Pakistan.

His efforts are geared towards consolidating his power for the next term. Nawaz Sharif is like a malignancy, which spreads its malevolence through connections.

Mussadak Malik is a classic example of Nawaz Sharif’s Nepotism and Cronyism.

It could happen only in Pakistan. Mussadaq Malik (Special Assistant to the PM and Minister of Water and Power) is a square peg in a round hole.

Mussadaq Malik has a B.Pharmacy from the University of Punjab.

His doctorate is in Pharmacy Administration.

He is a US Citizen, who to date as far as we know,he has not given up his US citizenship.

He spent most of his time in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was unemployed most of the time.

His wife is from one of the most influential families in Pakistan, so Mussadak is riding her coattails.

Mussadak knows as much about Power, as Malala Yousufzai knows about the mathematical formulation of a general theory of relativity,including the gravitation as a determiner of the curvature of a space-time continuum.Mussadaq has a gift of gab or rather as we say in the US, “He is a B.S. Artist.”.

He can make killer powerpoints presentations, but when it comes for execution, he is tremendously lacking.

How sad for 180 million Pakistanis that their biggest problem of Energy is being tackled by a person least qualified to solve it.

May be he will develop High Energy Capsule for Pakistanis, so they can get rid of the Anxiety created by Energy shortfall in Pakistan.



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    This is a story of a historical murder ordered by a Fascist French government in the 1930s.  It is also a classic example of how corrupt fascists operate and how they use violence as a means to an end. Raja “Rental” Pervez is a fascist. It is not beyond reason, that Raja “Rental”Pervez, is connected with the order murder NAB, investigator. Kamran Faisal had information which would have resulted in long term jail sentence to Raja “Rental”Pervez  Ashraf.  His ilk, once cornered resort to violence. They are worse than blood sucking vampire bats. Once, exposed to light, they try all means to hide themselves. This Count Dracula of Corruption is a gift to the nation by none other than, the Demon of Corruption, the civilian dictator, Asif Zardari.   Ashraf is not only a bugling stooge, prone to violence but also  a hatchet man for Asif Zardari. He has risen from the lower middle class of Pakistan, to reach meteoric heights; through adeptness as a strong hatchet man for Asif Zardari.   Unlike, Z.A.Bhutto, who was hanged on very specious evidence, Raja “Rental” Pervez is right up to his neck in the Rental Power Scandal.  Rather he is the lead character and the main beneficiary of over $600 Million graft given by IPPs. It stands to reason that his culpability is obvious in this not only sordid but also grisly affair .  

Kamran Faisal’s murder also has as many similarities to the mysterious death of
Laetitia Toureaux on Paris Metro, which happened under similar circumstances in another era.  Laetitia was also eliminated, because, she knew too much, and as they say, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Kamran also paid dearly for the knowledge he held on the High and the Mighty Ministers of Pakistan’s corrupt and US supported government.  

Kamran Faisal was a man of integrity, honesty, and, as his father said, served only one Master, The Allah Almighty.  His aging father, an honest, soft spoken, and deeply religious man spoke of his son’s deep sense of commitment responsibility to the nation.  Kamran loved his job and was serving the people of Pakistan and earning Rizq-i-Halal. A rarity indeed in an abjectly dishonest society like Pakistan.  His misfortune was that he was at the wrong place at the wrong time He was investigating the fraud perpetrated by a malevolent crook, masquerading as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Raja “Rental ” Pervez Ashraf, whose loyalty lies with the Don Corleone of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari.  A curse imposed a US government on the Pakistani nation; and also known to the global community as  Mr.Ten Percent.

Mysterious deaths of honest investigation officers have happened through out history. Chile’s Dictator, Gen.Augusto Pinochet, had death squads at his service. They eliminated any civil servant, who tried to expose or speak against the corruption in Chilean government . Pakistan has now become, the proverbial Pinochet ruled, Chilean model Banana Republic. It is ruled by Knights of Corruption, who have spread their cancerous tentacles of corruption infesting all sectors of Pakistan’s economy and commerce.

Pakistan’s civil society, which had so valiantly marched for the restoration of Chief Justice; is now in cahoots with the government. Its stalwarts are appearing on every TV channel, vehemently defending the corrupt government in coded terms, by saying, that they “were defending democracy.” What democracy? A democracy led by feudal elites and industrialist merchants, who flaunt all national and international laws. They do not pay taxes but enjoy the privileges and immunities of tax paying wage earners like the Pakistan Armed Forces.


An insidiously corrupt government, like that of PM Raja “Rental” Ashraf can do anything it likes. It has no accountability either to the people or the Judiciary, whom, they mock day in and day out.  Now, they have resorted to extrajudicial killings. The precedence for extrajudicial killings has been set by the MQM, a murder for hire organization in Karachi.  The culture of murder has now reached Islamabad.  It is already a norm in metropolitan Karachi, where MQM, reigns terror on ordinary defenseless Karachiites. Karachi’s killing fields have now been transplanted in Islamabad.  It seems, although, Kamran Faisal’s murder will NEVER be solved. Because, those in-charge of the murder investigations are also the perpetrators of the murder. These criminal murderers, go by such names as Pakistan Peoples Party, MQM, and PML(Q). But, those who live by the sword also die by the sword.  They are sure to be meted out Justice, if not Here, then in the Hereafter.   Pakistan is ruled by a Gang of Murders and Extortionists led by Numero Uno, Asif Zardari.    Such rulers can never be brought to justice, except by an Act of Almighty God. His name is also, Al-Adl, the Just. Accountability in the Hereafter, results in punishment forever, as embedded in Islam. It is the faith, Asif Zardari and Pervez Ashraf, claim to follow. Unless, they, are again being hypocritical. Or they consider Islam, as a mumbo jumbo confined to this world. That would be their biggest mistake for which there will not be any expiation or forgiveness.

Murder in the Metro

Mysterious Death Leads to Scholarly Work on Gender and Fascism in 1937 France


By Annette Finley-Croswhite and Gayle K. Brunelle


A Perfect Crime

On the 16th of May, 1937, at around 6 p.m., a striking, 29-year-old Italian woman wearing a finely tailored green suit, white hat and gloves left a suburban Paris bal musette, or dance hall, and walked quickly toward a bus stop. Approximately 24 minutes later, she stepped off the bus and entered a metro station where she boarded a first-class car bound for central Paris. Although the subway platform and the accompanying second-class cars were filled with Pentecost Sunday holiday-makers who had spent the afternoon at the Parc de Vincennes, Laetitia Nourrissat Toureaux sat alone in her first-class car. The train departed at 6:26 p.m., and 45 seconds later arrived at the Porte Dorée station where six passengers entered the first-class car and beheld a shocking sight. In front of their eyes, the woman in the green suit fell forward out of her seat, revealing a 9-inch dagger buried in her neck.


0Metro authorities immediately summoned the Paris police and emergency personnel, but Laetitia Toureaux died before she ever reached the Saint-Antoine Hospital and without ever naming her assailant. The judicial section of the Paris police force, known as the Sûreté Nationale, immediately launched an inquiry into the murder. Over the next 12 months they interviewed more than 800 people who either knew Toureaux or who had been at the dance hall, bus stop or subway platform with her on the day of her death. The police never found a single witness to the crime, however, and eventually shelved the investigation. To this day, the murder of Laetitia Toureaux remains officially unsolved, a seemingly “perfect crime.”


The paradox of Toureaux’s murder is that by mid-January of 1938 the Paris police and even the journalists, who were just as determined to solve the mystery of her death, had little doubt about who had killed her. The murder was connected to the assassinations of three prominent figures: the Russian economist Dimitri Navachine, stabbed to death in the Bois-de-Boulogne on Jan. 26, 1937; and the Italian antifascist exiles Carlo and Nello Rosselli, gunned down on a road in Normandy on June 9, 1937. Police eventually traced all three assassination cases to an extreme right-wing organization called the Comité Secret d’Action Révolutionnaire (CSAR) and popularly dubbed the “Cagoule,” or “hooded ones,” because of their penchant for donning hoods when they needed to hide their identities. The Cagoule favored violence and planned a paramilitary coup to oust the socialist “Popular Front” government of the late 1930s before installing a military-style dictatorship in preparation for the return of the French monarchy.


CSAR leadership included former army and naval officers, engineers, doctors and industrialists, many of whom belonged to some of the most distinguished families in France. The organization was well-funded by the heads of major companies like Michelin, L’Oréal and Lesieur Oil and had some support within the French armed forces. The Cagoule had no true ideology but expounded a vehement nationalist, anti-communist, anti-socialist, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic stance. During the period 1936-37, the Cagoule committed a number of serious crimes that included two bombings in Paris, at least seven murders and the destruction of several airplanes bound for anti-Franco forces in Spain. They incited public riots and on more than one occasion attempted the assassination of the socialist leader and Popular Front prime minister, Léon Blum. In Paris, members of the Cagoule also formed militias, amassed huge stockpiles of weapons, trained terrorists, built underground prisons, sought support from Mussolini and ran guns in Belgium, Switzerland and Italy. Cagoulard cells also existed in the French provinces.


The French police exposed the CSAR on the night of Nov. 15, 1937. Several of those arrested claimed knowledge of Toureaux’s murder and provided testimony about her assassination. Additional circumstantial evidence also pointed to her involvement with the Cagoule. Apparently, she was murdered because she had infiltrated the Cagoule as an undercover agent. When the Cagoulard leadership discovered her betrayal, they had her executed. But if the police suspected this, why was Laetitia Toureaux’s murder never solved?

The CSAR was a clandestine operation with a strict code of secrecy. Its right-wing orientation arose out of hostility toward the Socialist government of Léon Blum during a time of rising unemployment, massive labor unrest and general post-World War I malaise. Its leader, Eugène Deloncle, boasted that by 1937, 12,000 men in Paris had joined the Cagoule and 120,000 belonged to the organization in the provinces. At most, the Cagoule probably consisted of fewer than 200 known affiliates who had some sense of the true Cagoulard structure and mission, and anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand who were tied to the CSAR through other organizations or associations. Most believed they had joined an auto-defense organization meant to spring into action in the event of a communist uprising, a misconception the Cagoule’s leaders actively fostered. Recruits joined seven-man cells linked by vertical ties to units, battalions, regiments, brigades and divisions. There were no horizontal ties in the organizational structure, however, so that no relationship existed between cells. In the end, the police arrested only 71 members of the Cagoule in 1937-38. Those imprisoned were eventually released in 1939 when France mobilized for war. The case against the CSAR did not come to trial until 1948. By then many of those charged were distinguished war veterans. Most had found important places in the Vichy regime and/or ended the war as part of the French Resistance. Few were punished for their prewar crimes, and in the rush for postwar reconciliation in France, the murder of Laetitia Toureaux was largely forgotten.


The Cagoule leadership were simply too important to punish for the death of an Italian immigrant of questionable reputation. A case in point involves the late French President François Mitterand, who never belonged to the Cagoule, but developed close ties in his youth to many in its ranks.  Mitterand steadfastly refused to discuss his Cagoulard ties during his long presidency, but he clearly knew of the Cagoule’s prewar crimes and chose to ignore them. Laetitia Toureaux’s story, therefore, forms part of the larger French refusal to come to terms with the pre-World War II era when many French sympathized with extreme right-wing politics, fascism and anti-Semitism. Indeed, it can be argued that Vichy France was the fulfillment of right-wing agendas.


By retracing Toureaux’s life and death in a historical monograph, we intend not only to tell a good story and solve a murder, but also juxtapose the worlds of working-class immigrant culture and upper-class French society in order to craft a portrait of French politics and culture in the 1930s. Toureaux’s story thus becomes the lens through which we view French society during a turbulent time when many in France flirted dangerously close with fascism.


Who Was Laetitia Toureaux?

The morning after the murder, “Le Crime du Métro” made sizzling front-page copy in all the papers as Parisians awoke to the shocking news that a beautiful young woman was brutally killed on a subway train. Paris was abuzz with curiosity about the crime and its victim. The doctor who performed the autopsy on Toureaux’s body theorized that the blow that killed her had severed her jugular vein so perfectly that only a professional assassin could have done it. But what did this clue indicate about Toureaux’s background and lifestyle?


In the weeks that followed her demise, the Parisian newspapers and scandal sheets sensationalized the murder and its investigation, little by little uncovering the details of Toureaux’s unconventional life and offering hypotheses on her untimely death. In the first few days after the murder, the journalists and the Parisian public viewed Toureaux as an innocent, an ingénue perhaps, but a respectable, recently widowed immigrant who was a victim of cruel fate. Five days after the murder, however, public opinion turned against her. Exposed as an ambitious social climber with a taste for money and adventure, her marriage to the late Jules Toureaux was revealed to be a clandestine relationship. His scandalized bourgeois family only learned of the union on his deathbed and unsurprisingly severed all legal ties with his working-class wife. Toureaux’s lifestyle also had been unsavory, for like many Italians living in France, she frequented bals musette, often located in the most sordid neighborhoods of Paris where pimps and prostitutes solicited customers. Toureaux lived a mysterious and exciting life and was known to acquaintances by another name, “Yolande.” The police learned that she had sexual encounters with men in hotels and public parks, but they never uncovered any evidence that she charged for sex. Faithful to her husband during their six-year secret marriage, she took a series of lovers from her milieu after his death in 1934.


Even more intriguing, Toureaux not only worked in a glue factory by day and a bal musette by night, she also gained intermittent employment as a sometime “mouche,” or informant, with a detective agency in central Paris called Agence Rouff, where she specialized in surveillance and message delivery. Much of her detective work was done in the bals musette. Her beauty was her greatest asset since her good looks gave her entry into many places and access to people she was expected to watch. Through her employer, Georges Rouffinac, it appears that she began working unofficially for the investigative division of the Paris police and in this capacity infiltrated the Cagoule. Late in his life, her former lover and Cagoule member, Gabriel Jeantet, told a reporter that she had been something of a double agent in the employ of Mussolini, but no documentation to this effect has ever been found.


So Why Was Laetitia Killed?

Laetitia Toureaux loved to dance, and as a dancer she met many young army officers who were attracted to right-wing politics. It appears that sometime in 1936, Laetitia, now known as “Yolande” and working for the police to infiltrate illegal, right-wing political groups, became the lover of Jeantet, the Cagoule’s arms smuggling expert. Jeantet ran a garage near Montmarte and commanded a fleet of cars he used to smuggle arms from Geneva to Paris. By the spring of 1937, the Cagoule began to suspect Toureaux of deceit and set a trap for her. News of an upcoming arms run was leaked to her, but when the car was stopped at the Swiss border, it was empty. The ruse cost Toureaux her life. The Cagoule leadership met on May 10, 1937, and determined her fate. In all probability, the group’s most notorious assassin, Jean Filliol, was ordered to kill her. Filliol proceeded to pull off the perfect crime and fled to Spain before World War II broke out. He finished his life a rich man near San Sebastian.


Why Tell Laetitia Toureaux’s Story Now?

Laetitia Toureaux’s story is both timely and compelling. A 500-page summary of the investigation compiled by the police a few months after her death paints a fascinating picture of one woman’s struggle to achieve bourgeois respectability in a world that denied upward mobility to people of her sex, class and ethnicity. Her murder is also intertwined with the history of French fascism. The Cagoule leaders were not street thugs but highly educated nationalists who used terrorism, particularly the bombing of two sites in the wealthy 16th district of Paris – ironically, on Sept. 11, 1937 – as a means of sending a message to the French public. On this particular 9/11, they hoped to fool the public into believing that a communist putsch was imminent and thereby hasten the fall of the Third Republic. Historians, however, seldom give more than summary attention to the Cagoule’s prewar aims. Ultimately the Cagoule failed to bring about regime change and install an ultraconservative state. Even so, their use of violence as a means of promoting disorder in 1937 has never been fully examined. A reassessment of the CSAR could aid understanding of France’s fall in 1940. At the very least, such a study provides insight into how terrorist cells operate, incite fear, and as Americans know only too well, change history.


And in the end, what do we make of Laetitia Toureaux, the woman who gives us access to those violent times? Reconstructing her life was no easy task. The files concerning her murder were sealed by the French government for 101 years and are not due to be released until 2038. We acquired legal derogations and gained access to many of these files but only after signing documents in which we promised never to compromise the names of leading French families. In many instances, files we sought vanished “without explanation.” A five-year search finally turned up the police archives that we were repeatedly told did not exist. More than one French archivist warned us not to pursue this research.


In 1997 we set out to find Toureaux’s grave. There in the stillness of a cemetery on the outskirts of Paris, we vowed to this woman to tell her story. Laetitia “Yolande” Toureaux was no heroine, but she embodied many of the complexities of interwar French society. In 2002 the lease expired on her grave plot, and her body was exhumed and cremated. In some sense, we believe, the publication of our book will reanimate and validate her existence.


In 1997 Annette Finley-Croswhite, associate professor and dean of graduate studies in the College of Arts and Letters, happened onto two or three sentences in a Paris travel guide about a 1937 unsolved murder in the capital city’s subway. That reading would lead to an eight-year project that is now drawing to an end. Finley-Croswhite and fellow researcher Gayle Brunelle, whom she had met in graduate school at Emory University and who now teaches at California State University, Fullerton, agreed that the story was too good to pass up. Although both are French historians whose specialty is the 16th century, they “retooled” themselves to write about this fascinating piece of history from the 20th century. They published a major article in the journal French Cultural Studies, “Murder in the Metro,” and have spoken about it at several conferences. After years of research, they have produced a manuscript, titled “Laetitia Toureaux and the Cagoule: Murder, Gender, and Fascism in 1937 France.” The subject of the scholarly work remains highly controversial, and many people in France would prefer that the story be forgotten. As dedicated historians and researchers, however, Finley-Croswhite and Brunelle couldn’t let that happen.



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