Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.27.34 AMAs I was wrapping up my travels in Asia, an extremely sad event unfolded in Paris during which 12 people were murdered at the office of satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. Just four days later, another sad and pathetic event occurred. A swarm of politicians, many of whom are professional authoritarians, shamelessly descended onto the streets of Paris to “join millions of protesters” in a rally for free speech and solidarity with the victims of the barbaric attack.

As is typically the case, mainstream media stories were filled with powerful images of these political hacks marching arm in arm; faces austere, defiantly standing their ground on behalf of freedom and liberty the world over. You have doubtlessly seen many variations of the following:

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.43.38 AM

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.44.16 AM

Such images were commingled with photos of the real march, which was estimated to include an incredible 3.7 million people.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.48.15 AM

Such images can bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened cynic. Politicians and citizens united for a noble cause! There’s just one minor problem. As the Huffington Post and Independent both noted, this is what the politicians’ march actually looked like:

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.27.34 AM

While this pathetic and shameless photo op is embarrassing enough, what’s far more concerning and downright hypocritical is the fact that many of the participants are active authoritarians in their home countries. In fact, several Charlie Hebdo employees noticed and commented on the contradiction. For example, TruthDig reported the following:

Le Monde reported on the Charlie Hebdo team at the Paris rally on Sunday, the largest demonstrations in France since the end of World War II.  They were emotionally exhausted, having lived through a nightmarish week that saw 10 of their colleagues murdered in cold blood.  (One of the staffers killed was a Muslim copy-editor known at the offices for the breadth of his learning). 

And, fatigued as they are, they had soon to get back to work on the special edition of their weekly, which will be printed in a million copies rather than the 60,000 usual run.

They said their biggest regret was that they couldn’t have paraded caricatures from the past pages of Charlie Hebdo of the various heads of state who joined the rally– Benyamin Netanyahu, King Abdallah II of Jordan, of former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, of Russian Foreign Minister Sergueï Lavrov, of Turkish prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and of all the authoritarian heads of state they had lampooned over the years.  (Many of the world leaders in the rally would have at the least jailed the Charlie Hebdo staff if they had been operating in those countries).

The only part of that sad scene to be celebrated is the fact that a pigeon went ahead and took a shit on French President François Hollande as he embraced Patrick Pelloux, a doctor and columnist at Charlie Hebdo. RawStory reports:

While cameras focused on the moment that the president of the republic, François Hollande, embraced Patrick Pelloux, the doctor and columnist at Charlie Hebdo who was one of the first to the scene after the attack, they also captured some unexpected footage.

As Hollande bends to take Pelloux in his arms, a bird deficates on the shoulder part of the president’s right sleeve - causing staff from the satirical magazine to try and hide their uncontrollable laughter.

Now that’s a story.

While the complete hypocrisy of these politicians marching was noted by many, including Reporters without Borders, the best work was done by Londoner, Daniel Wickham. He went ahead and tweeted a series detailing some of the human rights abusers present. His powerful stream from yesterday is shown below:

Brilliant work sir. I added my own two cents on the affair last evening:

In Liberty,
Michael Krieger

Learn the Secrets of the Rich 500x100

Like this post?
Donate bitcoins: 1LefuVV2eCnW9VKjJGJzgZWa9vHg7Rc3r1
 Follow me on Twitter.