On 11 January 2015, some 3.7 million people joined some 40 Presidents and Prime Ministers in the unity march in France in what the New York Times has dubbed "the most striking show of solidarity in the West against the threat of Islamic extremism"
They were responding to the Charlie Hebdo massacre in Paris
Before we explain why the march on Sunday was the biggest display of hypocrisy, just to give you a head start, as these wide shots reveal, the world leaders were NOT really part of the march at all. But conducted a mere photo-op on empty, guarded street.
All those world leaders: not exactly "at" the Paris rallies. pic.twitter.com/YPFq1sMf88— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) January 12, 2015
After the march for unity in Paris, Khairy Jamaluddin, Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister, who wasn't at the march, tweeted:
I condemn again the Charlie Hebdo murders but the unity march was nauseating.— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) January 11, 2015
While some disagreed, some agreed, many were left confused. Khairy was in fact pointing towards several of those oligarchical leaders who marched for free speech while linking arms in an act of solidarity, but have done everything in their power to suppress, torture and murder the very free speech in their own countries.
As an outraged Reporters Without Borders, while welcoming the participation of many foreign leaders in the march in Paris in homage to the victims of terror attacks and in defence of the French republic's values, strongly asked:
"On what grounds are representatives of regimes that are predators of press freedom coming to Paris to pay tribute to Charlie Hebdo, a publication that has always defended the most radical concept of freedom of expression?"
Several of the 40 world leaders who joined the start of the Paris march, have policies at home that are in complete contrast with the solidarity for free speech that was on display throughout France on Sunday.
The organization said Sunday that it was "appalled by the presence of leaders from countries where journalists and bloggers are systematically persecuted such as Egypt (which is ranked 159th out of 180 countries in RWB's press freedom index), Russia (148th), Turkey (154th) and United Arab Emirates (118th)."
Christophe Deloire, Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General, said in a statement: "We must demonstrate our solidarity with Charlie Hebdo without forgetting all the world's other Charlies"
"It would be unacceptable if representatives of countries that silence journalists were to take advantage of the current outpouring of emotion to try to improve their international image and then continue their repressive policies when they return home. We must not let predators of press freedom spit on the graves of Charlie Hebdo."
And the organisation is so right. In an epic series of 21 fact-carrying tweets, Daniel Wickham, co-president of London School for Economics Middle East Society, pointed out that many of the world leaders who marched through the streets of Paris are not the world's biggest advocates for press freedom in their own countries.
Below, we list down the tweets that point out the hypocrisy of government solidarity with Charlie Hebdo
1. King Abdullah of Jordan
2. Prime Minister of Davutoglu of Turkey
3. Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel
4. Foreign Minister Shoukry of Egypt
5. Foreign Minister Lavrov of Russia
6. Foreign Minister Lamamra of Algeria
7. The Foreign Minister of the UAE
8. Prime Minister Jomaa of Tunisia
9. The PMs of Georgia and Bulgaria
10. The Attorney General of the US
11. Prime Minister Samaras of Greece
12. Sec-Gen of NATO
13. President Keita of Mali
14. The Foreign Minister of Bahrain
15. Sheikh Mohamed Ben Hamad Ben Khalifa Al Thani of Qatar
16. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
17. Prime Minister Cerar of Slovenia
18. Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland
19. Prime Minister Kopacz of Poland
20. PM Cameron of the UK
21. Saudi ambassador to France
But amidst all the criticism, one could argue, as student Axel Fougner did, "Hypocritical world leaders showing up in Paris does not in any way reduce the sincerity of the millions who marched for #jesuischarlie." While it's an effective argument, one should also remember that, across the world, NOT every journalist is Charlie.