The situation was tense and dramatic. The French government had banned demonstrations
in the interests of public safety after a French magazine published insulting anti-Islam cartoons that mocked the Prophet. There had been protests already, virtually around the globe against the film "Innocence of Muslims". The authorities were prepared. Well prepared.
Overhead there was a police helicopter. On the ground there were sixty massed riot police ready for any violence. More than two dozen journalists had their cameras ready to capture all the action.
Then Omar Djellil
entered and perched on a concrete block from which he harangued passersby:
“I may be the only one today but I am the spokesman of a silent majority."
Djellil had attempted to get permission for a demonstration but police refused as there is a ban in place. As well as lecturing people Djellil also plastered walls in the southern port city with posters. One said: "French Muslims don't need authorization to defend their rights". Another spoke of Hebdo pigs a reference to the satirical French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, that published cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed some of them showing him naked.
The police stood by, the helicopter hovered, but no one moved to arrest Djellil. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls said that he would not sanction any protests since they would represent a threat to public order. Djellil's unauthorized protest ended without incident. Having made his point Djellil no doubt just went home as did the riot police, the reporters, and the helicopter.
Riot police were deployed in several different areas of the French capital, Paris, to enforce the ban on demonstrations but as of mid-afternoon there were no reports of demonstrations or trouble. There were squads of riot police
at the Grand Mosque near the Eiffel Tower and also on the Place de la Concorde where a week ago a demonstration against the anti-Islam film had resulted in the arrest of 150 protesters.
Back on November 2, last year Charlie Hebdo's office was fire-bombed and its website hacked. The magazine had planned a special edition called "Charia Hebdo" with the Prophet Mohammed listed as editor-in-chief.