What Sets Off Fundamentalists?

Ron E. Hassner ponders the triggers of religious violence:

[W]hat is truly puzzling about fundamentalist wrath is not merely why some fundamentalist Muslims but not others choose to resort to terrorism against cartoonists but why there is no such Islamist terrorism against abortion clinics, for example, a prime concern for Protestant fundamentalists.  For reasons anchored in theology, history and politics, these Christians would never consider reacting with force to a cartoon mocking Jesus just as a cartoon mocking Moses would barely elicit a shrug from a fundamentalist Jew. But fundamentalist Jews riot, and violently so, in response to desecrations of the Sabbath and the unearthing of Jewish remains by archaeologists, two themes that neither their Muslim nor their Christian counterparts have much interest in. …

Why don’t Protestant extremists bomb abortion clinics in Europe?  Why have there been no Muslim riots in response to blasphemous cartoons in the U.S.? We cannot explain why fundamentalists attack without studying religion and we cannot explain when and where they attack without studying politics.  This point is lost both on anti-Muslim voices, who wish to forge an essentialist link between Islam and violence, and on postcolonial activists who strive to place the blame for violence anywhere but on the shoulders of its Islamists perpetrators.

Update from a reader:

I had an enlightening conversation with a Kuwaiti medical student who is on placement at my practice today.

He is studying medicine at Queen’s University in Belfast and would describe himself as a “secular” Muslim, horrified by the events in Paris. Nevertheless he recognises why some followers of Islam, are enraged by the care-free willingness of some non-Muslims to mock things that are fundamental to their beliefs, albeit that he does not support their deeds in any way.

However, our conversation got round to the reasons why some Muslims take up this jihad activity. He knows some who have left his own country but others from Iraq and further afield as well, who have been captivated by Islamic State and motivated almost entirely by revenge. Many of these people have been directly affected by the Iraq wars but other conflicts including Afghanistan have had a significant impact on their apparent conversion from relatively secular, peaceful individuals to radical jihads.
Most have been directly affected with the loss of several family members. The messages and propaganda promoted by I.S. have captured their imagination in a much more effective way than previously occurred with organisations such as Al Qaeda. Most of these men are of similar age (early 20s) to him. He does agree though, that there are many other reasons why young men are joining this organisation too. Whether we agree with these views or not, he is certain that the most recent invasion of Iraq was entirely unjustifiable and today’s events are a direct legacy of this.

Like me though, he also believes that organisations such as I.S. will never be defeated militarily. I come from a part of the world where a 30-year conflict eventually ended after the realisation that dialogue and negotiation were the only way to bring about a (mainly) peaceful situation. The IRA could never defeat the British forces or the determination of the Unionist people, just as the British Forces could never defeat the IRA or the aspirations of Irish Nationalist people. That it took 30 years for all involved to find this out is regrettable but should give us an indication of how long it might be before there is an end to fundamentalist jihad activity and the assumption that Western society can, in some way, dictate to people in Middle Eastern countries how they conduct themselves.

It would seem that the lessons of history are lost on too many who believe that (para)military aggression/intervention and war of whatever nature, represent any hope of solution to the horrors that affect our world today.

The Profanity Of Blasphemy Laws

Such laws are still common in much of the world:


Doug Bandow calls the murders of Charlie Hebdo staffers “the international cousins of those who murder alleged blasphemers and apostates in Muslim nations”:

Earlier this year the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported that victims of the ongoing attack on free expression include people from Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and Turkey.  Nowhere are blasphemy laws more used and abused than in Pakistan.

In its study on the issue USCIRF explained how the law encourages abuse:

“The so-called crime carries the death penalty or life in prison, does not require proof of intent or evidence to be presented after allegations are made, and does not include penalties for false allegations.”  Judges prefer not to hear evidence, since doing so could be construed as blasphemy.  A claim usually is sufficient to send someone to prison, making the law a common weapon in personal and business disputes.

Non-Muslims are peculiarly vulnerable.  Many people do not reach trial:  mobs have killed more than 50 people charged with the offense. And thugs like those who gunned down the Charlie Hebdo staffers have murdered judges who acquitted defendants, attorneys who represented those accused, and politicians who proposed reforming the laws.

Ireland, at least, is now rethinking its laws against blasphemy:

One article published by the Irish Times newspaper, titled “Why a referendum on blasphemy is long overdue,” specifically cites the words of Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier (aka “Charb”) as justification for an end to Ireland’s blasphemy laws. “Let’s repeal our blasphemy law if we really want to honor ‘Charlie,’ ” read a separate op-ed in the Irish Independent.

Meanwhile, an online poll conducted in response to the Paris attacks by news Web site TheJournal.ie found 64 percent in favor of scrapping the laws as quickly as possible.

Recent Dish on blasphemy laws here.

Reality Check

How Allahpundit frames a new YouGov poll: “Majority of Republicans think media should publish satires of religion, plurality of Dems disagree”:

In case you’re wondering which party is the anti-blasphemy party. Remember this the next time you stumble across a lefty thinkpiece on how Christian theocrats run the GOP. The top line is “should publish,” the second is “should not,” the third is “not sure”:


Some caveats are in order.

For one thing, when asked whether the media has an obligation to show controversial but newsworthy images even if they might offend the religious views of some, both parties are heavily in favor. Democrats split 76/24 while Republicans split 82/18. (The overall public split is 80/20.) That means that outfits like CNN and people like NYT editor Dean Baquet are crossways with fully 80 percent of the public in suppressing the Charlie Hebdo cartoons, at least for their stated fig-leaf reason of “sensitivity.”

Another caveat: When asked if it’s acceptable or unacceptable to ridicule Christianity, both parties tilt narrowly towards “unacceptable.” (Democrats split 38/44 while Republicans divide 45/47.) When asked if it’s acceptable or unacceptable to ridicule Islam, both tilt towards “acceptable” — 42/38 for Democrats and a clear majority of 53/30 for Republicans. It’s actually the age split that’s more interesting on that question though. For some reason, young adults and seniors are more circumspect while the middle-aged say “go for it.”

But he sees the gender and race divides as “far more interesting”:

Women clearly, to an almost majority extent, believe religious satires shouldn’t be published; among blacks, that opinion is held by a clear majority.

Did ISIS And Al Qaeda Team Up?

Bobby Ghosh contemplates the French terrorists’ connections to the global terrorist groups:

At least one of the Kouachi brothers, the gunmen in the Charlie Hebdomassacre, traveled to Yemen to train with al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, and U.S. officials believe the attack was ordered by the group’s high command. But Amedy Coulibaly, who carried out several other attacks in conjunction with the Kouachis, including taking hostages at a kosher supermarket, had pledged loyalty to ISIS.

If there’s a difference between al-Qaeda and ISIS, it was lost on these men. The brothers Kouachi attacked Charlie Hebdo because of its cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Coulibaly said he was motivated by France’s role in the war against ISIS. But their allegiances and affiliations didn’t prevent them from working together, from killing together.

How Keating understands the cooperation:

While ISIS and al-Qaida, as centralized organizations, may be sworn enemies, things may be more fluid for their adherents around the world, who share a common ideology and common goals. As the counterterrorism researcher Thomas Hegghammer wrote on Twitter today, the dual claims in Paris suggest that “some jihadis relate to IS/AQ like football teams. You can support different clubs and still watch game together.” Certainly, supporters of the two groups online seem to be reacting to the events in Paris with common enthusiasm.

Jeremy Scahill lends his perspective:

AQAP and ISIS have been engaged in a very public and bitter feud on social media and through official communications for the past year. While not impossible, it is unlikely that AQAP and ISIS at a high level agreed to cooperate on such a mission. An AQAP source told me that the group supports what Coulibaly did and that it does not matter what group — if any — assisted him, just that he was a Muslim who took the action. ISIS, clearly seeking to capitalize on the events in Paris, has now reportedly issued a call for its supporters to attack police forces. Of course, it is also plausible that all three of the men received some degree of outside help, but created their own cells to plot the Paris attacks. Whether Coulibaly was actually working with the Kouachi brothers or was inspired by their attack is also unknown.

For now, we have little more than verified statements from an AQAP source, a claim of responsibility from an ISIS figure and words of praise from both ISIS and some key AQAP figures. Taking responsibility for the attacks, whether true or not, could aid either group in fundraising and in elevating its prominence in the broader jihadist movement globally.

All The ████ That’s Fit To Print

Matt Welch wonders which outlets will reprint Charlie Hebdo’s latest cover:

o-CHARLIE-COVER-570It’s a fortunate thing that the new Charlie Hebdo cover image became known [Monday] at 4:30 p.m. ET, because that means the same deep-pocketed, overlawyered, American news organizations that have so spectacularly avoided reprinting allegedly “offensive” CH covers thus far will have plenty of time to wrestle with their starkest yes-or-no choice yet: Are you really going to opt out of showing the most newsworthy cover image of the year, one that carries a legitimately sweet (if sardonic) message, just because it portrays (a grieving and empathetic) Mohammed?

Unsurprisingly, The New York Times is out of the gate with a resounding “yes.” The Paper of Record is in the awkward position of having a (very good) article up titled “Charlie Hebdo’s New Issue Has Muhammad on the Cover,” absent a certain, shall we say, illustrative element. In contrast, USA TodayThe Wall Street Journal and the L.A. Times have shared with their readers (at least online) what the hullaballoo is about.

Emmanuelle Richard translates part of an interview with cartoonist Renald Luzier, who drew the cover:

We tried to stick close to the news (laughs). Today is wrap day, and we’re trying to do our best. Our best is doing a bit better, in fact—we have good news: [CH cartoonist] Riss [who was injured in the attack] is back at drawing. He sent a strip, he’s sending drawings. It means that someone else has joined in, meaning that we’re all hanging in there, including those still in the hospital.


Did Terrorists Just Elect Le Pen? Ctd

Philip Gourevitch scrutinizes how the French right-wing leader has played her cards over the past week:

In the immediate aftermath of the attack on Wednesday, as traffic surged on her Facebook page and she picked up thousands of new followers, she did nothing special to insert herself into the story or to exploit the fears that the Front has long fed on. She reiterated her longstanding call for France to withdraw, unilaterally and at once, from the Schengen Agreement, which allows for open borders within the extended European community, but that was hardly newsworthy. Rather, Le Pen appeared to adopt the time-tested opposition strategy of waiting for the political establishment to make a misstep that would turn attention her way—and she did not have to wait long. Within hours of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, the ruling Socialists and a coalition of allied parties of the left announced plans for a massive solidarity rally on Sunday—a silent march through the heart of Paris in the cause of “national unity”—without extending an invitation to the National Front.

The exclusion of the Front was great news for Le Pen. Nobody believed that she would have wanted to go and be associated with the political mainstream, but, by failing to invite her, the Socialists had given her a cudgel.

Comparing Le Pen to her father, Jean-Marie, and other intellectual forebears of the French right, John Gaffney finds her wanting as a standard bearer:

Marine is good on TV, she’s a reasonable debater, and she seems to have chosen to walk away from lots of the right’s traditions and manners. But the detox also involves – apart from all the other things it involves – losing one’s intellectual tradition. Does this have advantages – for her and/or for those who oppose the FN?

Marine Le Pen is ‘ordinary’, in fact, very and deliberately ordinary. She is, in the true tradition of the far right, a very forceful personality. But she’s a particular forceful, and a particular ordinary. She’s a twice divorced mum who lives with her partner and their respective kids. That is a far cry from far right values, in itself. And the fact that it is a woman leading this movement is fascinating, a movement whose philosophy and populism loves the leader, but never imagined it might be a female leader. But she is not like Joan of Arc, the FN’s female heroine. She has no visions. No grace inhabits her; she is more like a bossy and assertive middle manager at Asda.

She certainly doesn’t look as if – unlike her father – she has read Barrès or Voyage au bout de la nuit…. as have all French politicians and intellectuals. One gets the impression that not only has she not read them, she doesn’t give a toss either.

Meanwhile, Martin Robbins demolishes Le Pen’s call for France to bring back the death penalty in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre:

What, exactly, are executions supposed to achieve? You can’t execute a suicide bomber. Death isn’t a big problem for the kind of fanatics willing to die for a cause. Even if you just look at ordinary crime, there’s no real reason to think that execution would deter people. As Amnesty put it, “The threat of execution at some future date is unlikely to enter the minds of those acting under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol, those who are in the grip of fear or rage, those who are panicking while committing another crime (such as a robbery), or those who suffer from mental illness or mental retardation and do not fully understand the gravity of their crime.” They note that murder rates are considerably higher in those American states that still have the death penalty.

David Corn piles on:

The goal of martyrdom has motivated numerous jihadists to conduct murderous action. Suicide bombers, the 9/11 plotters, and others seek to die in pursuit of their cause and believe that there will be a reward on the other side. So the best punishment, when such criminals are apprehended, would be to deny them martyrdom and force them to wait decades, maybe half a century, to meet their violence-supporting maker—preferably in a small, isolated cell for all that time. Recruiters of jihadist killers might have a tougher time selling a decades-long stint in prison than a glorious exit in a blaze of gunfire or a high-profile state execution that would receive attention around the world.

Face Of The Day



Charlie Hebdo revealed their cover image for this week’s issue, printed just days after two gunmen opened fire on the newspaper’s Paris office, killing 12 people. Four of the Charlie’s cartoonists were killed in the attack. The cover shows the Prophet Muhammad holding a “Je Suis Charlie” sign with the caption, “All is forgiven.” The newspaper said that it will print over 1 million copies this week, with financial help from Google, Le Monde and other organizations. It usually prints around 60,000.

Nous Sommes Charlie, But Do We Really Want To Be? Ctd

Scott Sayare pushes back on the growing liberal narrative that Charlie’s provocative cartoons lampooning Islamic fundamentalism were “racist”:

Charlie Hebdo is not a racist publication, as has been widely suggested in the Anglophone press, though it does not hesitate to risk appearing so if it might draw a laugh. (A good example is a recent cartoon, noted frequently in the past few days, depicting France’s black minister of justice as a monkey; the drawing was in fact meant to skewer the French racists who have portrayed her as a monkey, but those unfamiliar with French politics might be forgiven this misunderstanding.)

The magazine is, however, intolerant of religion and believers of all sorts, and smug in those anticlerical convictions. Dialogue with its opponents was never of much interest, and it has repeatedly chosen to target some of France’s most vulnerable inhabitants for provocation. … “We have a lot of new friends, like the pope, Queen Elizabeth, and Putin,” one of the magazine’s most prominent artists, the Dutchman Bernard Holtrop, told the Dutch daily Volkskrant amid the outpouring of support after last week’s killings. “We vomit on all these people who suddenly say they are our friends.”

Dish readers here and here also added crucial context to the allegedly racist cartoons published in Charlie, including the one of the French minister of justice. Addressing those who don’t speak native French, Olivier Tonneau digs even deeper to defend Charlie against charges of racism:

[The newspaper] continuously denounced the pledge of minorities and campaigned relentlessly for all illegal immigrants to be given permanent right of stay. …

[T]he main target of Charlie Hebdo was the Front National and the Le Pen family. Next came crooks of all sorts, including bosses and politicians (incidentally, one of the victims of the shooting was an economist who ran a weekly column on the disasters caused by austerity policies in Greece).  Finally, Charlie Hebdo was an opponent of all forms of organized religions, in the old-school anarchist sense: Ni Dieu, ni maître! They ridiculed the pope, orthodox Jews and Muslims in equal measure and with the same biting tone. They took ferocious stances against the bombings of Gaza.

Even if their sense of humour was apparently inacceptable to English minds, please take my word for it: it fell well within the French tradition of satire – and after all was only intended for a French audience. It is only by reading or seeing it out of context that some cartoons appear as racist or islamophobic.

And Robert Zaretsky situates both Charlie Hebdo and the controversial author Michel Houellebecq within France’s lengthy tradition of self-consciously provocative humor:

While historians can trace this vital, often bulging vein of French humor as far back as Rabelais, it is easiest—a rationale, after all, that Charlie Hebdo made its credo—to go no further than the Belle Epoque and the birth of le fumisme. Practiced by performers in the cafés of then-exotic Montmartre, fumisme was part disdain, part mockery and zesty provocation, shuffled and dealt with cutting accuracy to its pathetic target—namely, the bourgeois clients who, escaping their humdrum lives and filling the room, couldn’t get their fill of hearing their way of life ridiculed. It was, as the historian Jerrold Seigel has noted, “a refusal to treat the official world with seriousness and respect.”

A French reader of Dreher’s reflects on what society gains from Charlie’s commitment to offending anyone and everyone:

As far as the ‘nasty kids’ and ‘useless provocations’ anathemas go, I’d like to yell that it’s not true, or at the very least offer some extremely important proviso. First, any Charlie reader, and I mean any, would, time and again, choke on a cartoon (even the cartoonists themselves, sometimes). Which, in and by itself, would school you: you’d learn to turn the other cheek, you’d learn to feel others’ pain at being offended, you’d learn to let go of your pain at being offended, and, last but not least, you’d learn that, sometimes, the only offense was to your vainglorious self. Sure, on the whole, that made for an unholier-than-Thou and a leave-no-holy-cow-unskewered weekly: “bête et méchant”. But, for the reader, it was also a weekly lesson in humility and humanity.

Chait doubles down on his insistence that the press has a responsibility to reprint Charlie’s offensive cartoons – something that can’t be said enough:

Let us stipulate for the sake of argument that Charlie Hebdo is crude and even racist. Freedom of expression is not a strong defense of crude, racist, or otherwise stupid expression. Indeed, one of the most common and least edifying defenses made by people who have proffered offensive opinions is that they have the right to free speech. The right of expression is not the issue when the objection centers on the content.

In this case, the content of Charlie Hebdo’s work is not the issue. The issue is the right of publication. Given the fact that violent extremists threaten to kill any journalist who violates their interpretation of Islam, establishing the freedom (I argue) requires committing the blasphemy. To argue, as some have, that the threat is wrong, but that journalists should avoid blasphemy out of prudence allows the extremists to set the rules.

Will The Paris Attacks Accelerate The Jewish Exodus?

Tributes And Reaction To Paris Terror Attacks After Gunmen Kill 17 People

Jamie Kirchick remembers “an evening last September when I was strolling through the Marais’ windy and narrow streets”:

I came across the Notre Dame de Nazareth synagogue, a grand, 19th century building constructed in the Moorish revival style that serves the city’s Sephardic Jews, those who come from North Africa. The rabbi happened to be walking out of the synagogue with his wife. After dispensing with the facts of my Jewish background and American citizenship, I promptly asked, “What’s the situation?” Our shared patrimony obviated any need for further elaboration; as a European Jew addressing an American one, he knew exactly at what I was aiming. “There is no future for Jews in France,” he said. If the Rabbi is right, and I fear he is, than it means that there is no future for Jews in Europe. For France is home to the continent’s largest Jewish community, numbered at over half a million. But it is declining rapidly.

Josh Marshall also worries about the future of Jews in France:

When these events [last week] began to unfold I immediately thought of this article I saw [last] Monday. Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky (the same 70s and 80s era Soviet refusnik, Anatoly Sharansky) said that in 2014 some 50,000 French Jews asked the Jewish Agency (the primary agency organizing and facilitating Jewish immigration to Israel) for information about immigrating to Israel.

It’s important to note that Jewish immigration into and emigration out of Israel is a highly politicized and emotive issue within Israel – it goes to the essence of the Zionist project. So these numbers should be seen through that prism. But there’s something very real happening. To expand on those numbers, in 2012 about 2000 French Jews left for Israel. In 2013 it was a bit over 3000. 2014 apparently hit over 6000.

Joshua Keating points to a string of anti-semitic attacks in recent years that have motivated that exodus:

Tensions reached a high point during last summer’s war in Gaza, when demonstrations turned violent with pro-Palestinian youths attacking Jewish businesses in a neighborhood known for its large Jewish population. Several synagogues were also firebombed. Demonstrators at some rallies chanted slogans like “death to the Jews” and “slaughter the Jews.” These incidents followed an attack in May on the Jewish Museum of Belgium in Brussels, where a French former ISIS fighter killed four people.

These attacks have added to the growing unease of a community still reeling from the 2012 shooting at a Jewish school in Toulouse, which killed three children and a teacher, as well as the grisly torture and murder of  a young Jewish man named Ilan Halimi in 2006. While these dramatic incidents have garnered the most international attention, smaller anti-Semitic crimes have become depressingly commonplace. On New Year’s Day of this year, for instance, a fire was started and a swastika drawn on the wall of a synagogue in a Paris suburb.

The Jewish Agency, which helps Jews make aliyah, was on the scene in Paris this week and seemed to be harnessing French Jews’ fear to advocate for more emigration:

In what now has become a strange coincidence, the Jewish Agency and the Ministry of Immigration Absorption held an Aliyah Fair in central Paris on Sunday that was scheduled before any of the attacks took place. The fair was designed to inform French Jews and returning citizens above the age of 50 on how to start the process of relocating their lives to Israel. The fair had increased its security to make sure families felt safe as they came to the fair to weigh the option of immigrating to Israel.

Chemi Shalev is disheartened to see Israeli leaders, especially on the country’s right wing, pushing “emigration to Israel as a Zionist antidote for the anti-Semitism and atmosphere of fear”:

[T]his instinctive reaction – perhaps Pavlovian is a better word – should give reason for pause and discomfort, even among the most ardent of Zionists. Because whether French Jews answer these calls by emigrating to Israel or whether they simply take the advice in principle and go somewhere else, in some ways this campaign is no more than blatant capitulation to terror. It gives its instigators a prize they could never have dreamed of: a frenzied flight of Jews, at best, or the complete elimination of Jewish presence in France, at worst. … Such a surrender, as Netanyahu regularly lectures the West, can only invigorate the Jihadists and spur them to adopt similar tactics in other European countries.

Likewise, Brent Sasley argues that “the calls by many on the political right for French Jews to return ‘home‘ to Israel indicates a lack of interest in recognizing that the conditions that led to the emergence of Zionism have changed” – i.e., that 2015 is not 1933, and that the challenges Jews in Europe face today do not compare to the existential threats of the past:

At its emergence, Zionism was perceived by its leaders and adherents as a movement of no or little choice. Anti-Semitic persecution required a safe haven. At the same time, the belief that the Jews could never be a normal people so long as they lived among host societies and didn’t have their own state meant that national redemption was a necessary process, not an optional one. An effective conversation about Zionism can only begin if participants recognize that things have changed over time. While the events in France reinforce for some the notion that they haven’t, this is a misunderstanding of world, Jewish, and Israeli history.

Aliza Luft detects a different historical parallel, between the French Jews of the past and French Muslims today:

French protestors in the 1930s blamed Jews for their supposed capitalistic tendencies, for stealing jobs, for forcing French civilians out of the economy. Today, Muslims are stereotyped in France as stealing jobs and welfare, living off state benefits, and bringing down the country’s economy. French citizens who consider Muslims not really French see them as threatening to their material goods; as scapegoats for the country’s current economic woes.

(Photo: Children wave French flags from a window as French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve visits the Jewish school in the Jewish quarter of the Marais district of Paris on January 12, 2015. Mr. Cazeneuve visited the area to inspect the deployment of thousands of troops and police to bolster security at “sensitive” sites including Jewish schools. By Dan Kitwood/Getty Images.)

Terror Unites, Divides France

France responded to last week’s terrorist rampage with a massive manif in the streets of Paris yesterday, drawing the largest crowds of any demonstration in the country’s post-WWII history. But Robert Zaretsky doesn’t buy the show of unity, arguing that it masks divisions in French society that the terror attacks are ripping open even further:

[O]nlookers this afternoon in Paris saw not just leaders from across the globe joining the march, but nearly all the religious and political leaders in France. With one exception, though: Le Pen marched in the southern town of Beaucaire, a Front National fief. In a brief speech at the town’s city hall, she hailed about 1,000 supporters for “reminding the world of the values of liberty.” It was here, in le pays réel, or real France, and not in the international parade in Paris that such values are rooted.

In spite of Hollande’s declaration after the attacks that “Our best weapon is unity,” French politics—and the French people—appear as divided as ever. The lines are being drawn, and they will not be erased by any number of republican marches. This is where French society in the aftermath of these recent acts of terror is, in some ways, on shakier ground than American society was after the September 11 attacks.

A fair amount of hypocrisy was on at the Paris march as well; Daniel Wickham identifies nearly two dozen countries represented there that have their own ugly records of arresting, intimidating, assaulting, or murdering journalists, including some major offenders like Turkey, Russia, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. True to form, the Charlie Hebdo staffers who attended the rally came away wishing they had called out these hypocrites:

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 Chralie Hebdo if they had been operating in those countries). Oh, well, said Luz, a cartoonist. You can’t think of everything.

But Tim Murphy attended the rally and was moved by its somber – not angry – tone:

[A]mid the sheer size of the crowds, I was struck, yet again, by how quiet people were overall, in contrast to the steroidal, rah-rah racket of an American rally. There were no drum circles and little chanting; occasionally “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem, was sung, but certainly not by everyone; and though the French flag dotted the crowds, it wasn’t ubiquitous in the way that the American flag was post-9/11.

What was ubiquitous was the simple black-and-white “Je Suis Charlie” sign, which emerged today with all sorts of variations: “I am Charlie” plus “I am Jewish,” or “I am Muslim,” or “I am a Journalist,” or “I am a Secularist.” I saw no Islam-baiting signs unless you want to count those that bore some of the Charlie Hebdo images that courted so much controversy in the first place, including one of Mohammed gnashing his teeth over fundamentalists and another of a Muslim man and a male cartoonist making out that reads “Love is Stronger Than Hate.”

Bershidsky previews another wave of marches coming soon to a European city near you – and these won’t be about “unity” either:

Xenophobes elsewhere in Europe will also take this chance to assert themselves. Tonight, in Dresden, Germany, the anti-Islamic group Pegida intends to hold what will probably be its biggest rally yet. Since the Charlie Hebdo shootings, Pegida’s Faceook page has added about 20,000 supporters. German Justice minister Heiko Maas called on Pegida to cancel the gathering, denouncing the group as “hypocrites” who have protested against the “lying press” and are suddenly full of sympathy for its fallen representatives. The Pegida page’s only response has been, “What can one say???”

Marches like Pegida’s are more ideologically consistent than those held in Paris yesterday. They are also, of course, much smaller. But as the Charlie Hebdo massacre showed, it takes only two people to shed blood and frame the agenda as war.

Josh Rogin, meanwhile, wants to know why no major US officials were in attendance:

A senior administration official told me that the security requirements needed if Obama or Biden were to have attended the Paris rally could have interfered with the event itself, and the White House didn’t want the focus to be on the U.S. rather than on the French. The official noted that Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas were in Paris for related meetings, although neither attended the rally. But back in Washington, almost no senior administration officials participated in the much smaller rally and march that took place Sunday afternoon only blocks from the White House. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland was the only official representative.

Eugene Volokh shares that puzzlement:

The U.S. was represented by our Ambassador to France, normally a logical choice but rather an odd one, I think, when dozens of world leaders — including leaders of many of our main allies — were present. And this is especially so when the march is about protecting values that are so important to us as Americans, as well as to the French, the English, and others. … Am I missing something here? Is there some particularly good “smart diplomacy” reason why we would be absent when so many others were present?