|Francois Hollande alongside Angela Merkel, Binyamin Netanyahu, Mahmoud Abbas, etc|
EXTRACT: Most mind-bogglingly of all, it need hardly be said, is the idea that Saudi Arabia is Charlie and could send an official to an event supposedly cherishing and defending the values of secularism - such a level of hypocrisy is off the Richter scale. Further compounding the outrage is the fact that on the Friday before the Paris rally, Saudi Arabia had publicly flogged Raif Badawi for setting up a blog, Free Saudi Liberals, deemed to be “insulting” to Islam. Originally sentenced in 2013 to seven years in prison and 600 lashes in relation to the charges, the punishment was stiffened after his lawyer made an appeal - now condemned to 1,000 lashes, a 10-year prison sentence and ordered to pay a fine of one million riyals (£175,000). Following his arrest, his wife and children left the kingdom for Canada (for good measure, his lawyer, Waleed Abu al-Khair, was sentenced to 15 years in prison last July for daring to criticise human rights abuses). Compassionately, the Saudi authorities will be flogging him in weekly 50-lash instalments.