On Sunday, an estimated 1.3 million people marched in Paris — the largest gathering since the city’s liberation from the Nazis — to show their solidarity and support for free speech. Some 40 heads of state led the march, and La Marseillaise echoed through the narrow streets once again. All very historic stuff.
But the story that caught my attention was some pundits’ observation that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy had weaseled his way to the front of the line, and had inserted himself among the world leaders.
This apparently seized the collective imagination, because within 24 hours “Je Suis Nico” had become a thing.
Here’s the original Associated Press news photo by Philippe Wojazer, showing Sarkozy in the front row, third from the left:
Now, I know I’m a little late to the game with this — but I’d hate to miss a meme. And anyway, I frankly don’t think my historic photo of Elvis and Bigfoot riding the Loch Ness Monster got the respect it deserved when I first shot it. (Proof that Elvis lives. And Bigfoot! C’mon, people!!)
Oh, well. At least it looks like Nico is having fun.
Clarification, posted January 15, 2015: A friend who actually attended the rally has informed me that the #JeSuisNico meme is based on an unfair characterization of Nicolas Sarkozy’s participation.
According to my friend, Sarkozy (aka, Nico) “… was invited by [French president] François Hollande to attend and he is not in the front row. In the picture, [Israeli prime minister Bejamin] Netanyahu, who IS in the front row, has stepped aside to reveal Nico who is in the row behind with ministers from the French government.”
So I (and thousands of others) hereby stand corrected. I still think Nico looks rather fetching on the back of the Loch Ness Monster, though.