What We're Watching: Deadly clashes in Pakistan, Xi Jinping's calendar app, Parisian courts vs Macron

Supporters of the banned Islamist political party Tehrik-e-Labaik Pakistan (TLP) chant slogans during a protest in Lahore, Pakistan April 19, 2021.

Pakistani radicals vs French cartoons: It's been a tumultuous week in Lahore, Pakistan's second largest city. After widespread protests broke out across the Muslim world late last year after Paris defended French publications' rights to publish satirical images of the Prophet Mohammad, the radical Pakistani Islamist group Tehrik-i-Labaik Pakistan (TLP), gave Pakistan's government until April 20 to expel the French ambassador, when it had planned nationwide demonstrations. When Prime Minister Imran Khan refused to meet their demands, more violence erupted across the country and authorities arrested the TLP leader — prompting TLP supporters to hit back by kidnapping six state security personnel in Lahore this past weekend. Authorities have now banned the TLP outright and are bracing for more violence in the coming days. France, meanwhile, has urged all of its citizens to leave Pakistan.


Xi Jinping's calendar app: After three days of talks between US climate czar John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, the two sides agreed to cooperate on tackling climate change "with urgency." Urgency is a good thing, given that China is the world's largest polluter, followed by the US. If there's any hope of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of this century, the US and China will have to work together to get there. But the US and China climate dialogue will need to move quickly from diplomatic goodwill to observable action. On that score, one big thing to keep an eye on is whether Chinese president Xi Jinping himself decides to attend the online global climate summit that US President Joe Biden is hosting later this week. Amid growing tensions between the US and China on a range of human rights, technological, and strategic issues, Xi's decision will send an early signal about how important Beijing thinks it is to work with Washington on climate specifically.

Parisian court won't try anti-Semitic attacker: Four years after the brutal murder of a Jewish woman in Paris, France's top court has ruled that the alleged attacker cannot face trial because he was in a cannabis-induced "delirious fit" (in lay terms: he had smoked a lot of pot). Sarah Halimi, a 65-year-old Orthodox Jewish woman living alone, was brutally attacked by a young Muslim man in 2017, who engaged in an anti-semitic rant while aggressively beating the woman before throwing her off a balcony. The French Jewish community, the largest in Europe, expressed outrage at the judge's decision to uphold a lower court ruling that the aggressor could not be held accountable for his actions because of his drug use. The high-profile crime came as French Jews have been reeling from a series of anti-Semitic attacks in recent years, prompting thousands to flee the country in fear. Before the verdict, President Emmanuel Macron came under fire for saying that he hopes the case goes to trial, with critics saying he should stay inside his (executive) lane. In response to the case, dozens of French senators are now calling for legislative reform so that a disturbed mental state because of drug use cannot be cause for exoneration, which Macron says he also supports.

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