Sign up FAST! Login

Live Updates: Paris March Draws Hundreds of Thousands

Stashed in: Middle East

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

It was the closest they have been seen together publicly in years. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, neighbors and nemeses, were among roughly 50 world leaders at the front of Sunday’s march through Paris streets, not quite shoulder to shoulder but separated by just a few colleagues.

“These two leaders, with obviously a very checkered past, they are now side by side!” exulted an announcer on France 24 television, which live-streamed the march.

That the reunion took place in France made it more poignant. Less than two weeks ago, France was among eight members of the United Nations Security Council to support a resolution on Palestinian statehood that set a deadline for an end to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank. Though the resolution was defeated, the French vote was seen as a critical victory for Palestinians and a betrayal by many Israelis.

Since the terrorist attack on Wednesday that killed 12 at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, both Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas have made repeated statements condemning Islamic extremism and expressing solidarity with France.

“At this solemn moment of tragedy, our hearts and minds are with you in the face of terrorism that has no religion,” Mr. Abbas told President François Hollande in a telephone call on Saturday, according to Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency. “The entire Palestinian people are pained by what has taken place.”

Mr. Netanyahu, who planned to join Mr. Hollande for an evening rally with the Jewish community of France, drew some criticism by saying Sunday morning, in light of the killing of four hostages at a kosher supermarket, “that any Jew who wants to immigrate to Israel will be received here with open arms.”

Neither man made public statements in Paris before the march. Aides to both said they were unaware of any special arrangements being made to engineer a handshake – or to keep them apart.

“The focus was not on them, the focus was on France,” said Majdi Khaldi, Mr. Abbas’s diplomatic adviser, who traveled with him to Paris. “They are not personal enemies, just the politics is not good between them.”

As the march began, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas were stuck in the second row, but both worked their way to the front, each a couple of people away from Mr. Hollande, on alternate sides.

“That is an extraordinary image for the world to see: two individuals who represent two very different points of view in terms of solving what is probably the worst ongoing problem in the world,” observed another France 24 announcer. “I hope that sends a very clear message to people out there.”

Surprising solidarity. Perhaps this tragedy brings people closer together?

It brought millions together today, all over the world:  Christians, Jews, Muslims, seculars, everyone!

Wow. I guess this act was seen as a final straw? Why weren't previous terrorist acts so uniting?

Contrast with Nigeria:

France spent the weekend coming to terms with last week’s terror attacks in Paristhat left 17 dead. The country mourned, and global leaders joined an estimated 3.7 million people on its streets to march in a show of unity.

In Nigeria, another crisis was unfolding, as reports came through of an estimated 2,000 casualties after an attack by Boko Haram militants on the town of Baga in the north-eastern state of Borno. Amnesty International described as the terror group’s “deadliest massacre” to date, and local defence groups said they had given up counting the bodies left lying on the streets.

Reporting in northern Nigeria is notoriously difficult; journalists have been targeted by Boko Haram, and, unlike in Paris, people on the ground are isolated and struggle with access to the internet and other communications. Attacks by Boko Haram have disrupted connections further, meaning that there is an absence of an online community able to share news, photos and video reports of news as it unfolds.

But reports of the massacre were coming through and as the world’s media focused its attention on Paris, some questioned why events in Nigeria were almost ignored.

On Twitter, Max Abrahms, a terrorism analyst, tweeted: “It’s shameful how the 2K people killed in Boko Haram’s biggest massacre gets almost no media coverage.”

Silence from Nigeria’s politicians

Many pointed to the palpable silence of many of Nigeria’s politicians. Last week, Nigeria’s president, Goodluck Jonathan, expressed his condolences for the victims of France but stayed silent on the Boko Haram attacks on Baga.

Media analyst Ethan Zuckerman said that the president is “understandably wary of discussing Boko Haram, as it reminds voters that the conflict has erupted under his management and that his government has been unable to subdue the terror group”. Nigeria’s elections are set to take place on 14 February. The president was also criticised for celebrating his daughter Ine’s wedding over weekend, in the aftermath of the killings.

Whoa. Not good.

What the prime minister of Albania had in his pocket during the march:

Prime Minister of Albania had in his pocket 2015 march in Paris Imgur

Imgur comments:

Reddit comments:

You May Also Like: