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 see if you can spot Nico in these Photoshopped images:
By najbo, via Tumblr
By Baptiste Adrien, via Tumblr
By Jehan le Brave, via Tumblr
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.
Nico has a right to be there doesn’t he? I assumed as a former President it was no big deal — our former Presidents come out for big events too. I wonder where Carla Bruni is.
Absolutely, Nico had every right to be there! As you say, it’s common (and even expected) for ex-presidents to attend public events like this one. I think the gentle mocking in France has been related more to how Sarkozy worked his way to the very front row. But admittedly there’s a bit of cultural baggage because some French people found him too flamboyant and a bit of an attention-seeker during his presidency. In any case, now you also have ME wondering where Carla Bruni is! 🙂
Poor sarkozy. They just like to pick on him. But he’s so short he needed to be at the front to be seen.
Hahaaaa! Your comment about poor Mr Z’s height just made me laugh out loud (probably because i have the exact same problem). I sometimes feel a bit sorry for him too, because his critics can be quite mean and petty. But at least this particular case seemed a bit more lighthearted, don’t you think?
I’m not a Sarkozy defender by any means but I bet he’s sensitive sbout the height issue. Most short men are because culturally men are supposed to be tall to be seen as manly. I expect everyone was impressed with his deft manuvering.
You are such a kind and thoughtful person to put yourself in Sarko’s shoes as you have! And you’re also right that everyone was impressed by his deft maneuvering. He showed a true mastery of that skill! 🙂
Well, it is a blog about travel, and Nico traveled right on up to the front now didn’t he? He walked on up an took Obama’s vacant spot.
Oooh, Alice! Touché!
Your subtle sense of humour (in the best tradition of Charlie Hebdo if I might say so) wins the day, as always. Bravo!
Just for the record – and I was actually there – Nico was invited by François Hollande to attend and he is not in the front row. In the picture, 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.
Thank you so much for setting the record straight on Nico’s appearance at the rally, Des. Now I feel a bit sheepish about having jumped on the bandwagon! Oh, well. In the true spirit of American reporting, I will issue a little note of correction.
And thank you also for your kind words about my sense of humor, which I often think is too subtle to even be perceived. Perhaps it’s because — unlike the folks at Charlie Hebdo — I’m always very concerned about not hurting people’s feelings or being disrespectful. I’m much too mild to be an effective comedian, I think. But I’m chuffed to bits that you “get” my jokes. Thank you, Des.
Haha What a fun post 🙂 You are such a versatile writer.
Aw, Mariano. Thank you for your kind words! You just made my day. 🙂