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Darth Vader and his Parisian lawyer
Darth Vader and his Parisian lawyer

PARIS — A short time ago, in a place not so far away, Star Wars fans in France were treated to a special Darth Vader drama, with a courtroom plot. Ahead of the release of the franchise's latest installment,The Last Jedi,a public trial was held in Paris for the father of all villains.

The Dec. 6 mock trial, L'Appel contre-attaque ("The Appeal Strikes Back") — in which a 3,000-strong audience serves as jury, and where sentencing is determined by the volume of clapping — was itself a sequel. A similar trial of the character, whom the French call "Dark Vador", had been held in December 2015 ahead of the last Star Wars episode, The Force Awakens, Paris-based daily Le Figaro reported.

Both events were held at Paris' Grand Rex (Europe's largest movie theater), and organized by the Fédération Francophone de Débat, an association that promotes "the art of public speaking" with a series of mock open trials of high-profile historical figures like Molière, Napoleon, Louis XVI, or even Jesus.

For the purpose of this intergalactic faux procès — albeit featuring very real and prominent attorneys and law students — slight modifications were made to George Lucas' cannon: The accused has survived his grueling death-by-Force-lightning at the hands of evil Emperor Palpatine and the ensuing blowing up of the Death Star, as depicted in The Return of the Jedi (1983). Lord Vader, now ordinary citizen Anakin Skywalker, was made prisoner and tried. After a two-hour debate in the 2015 trial, the evil defendant eventually emerged victorious, acquitted of violating virtually "all space laws' and contributing to the global warming of the universe by blowing up the entire planet of Alderaan. The public clapped Darth Vader "not guilty," apparently moved by his convincing, if asthmatic-toned, defense speech.

Last week's appeal lasted almost four hours, and the clap-o-meter was once again clearly on Vader's side. Jury's still out as to whether made illegal use of the Force to manipulate the verdict.

Another appeal, could there be? If so, we would have to wait two years, when the next Star Wars film is scheduled for release. Such is the pace of Hollywood mega-productions — and the French judiciary.

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Geopolitics

Patronage Or Politics? What's Driving Qatar And Egypt Grand Rapprochement

For Cairo, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil,” with anger directed at Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, and others critical of Egypt after the Muslim Brotherhood ouster. But the vitriol is now gone, with the first ever visit by Egyptian President al-Sisi to Doha.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with the Emir of Qatar in June 2022 in Cairo

Beesan Kassab, Daniel O'Connell, Ehsan Salah, Hazem Tharwat and Najih Dawoud

For the first time since coming to power in 2014, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi traveled to Doha last month on an official visit, a capstone in a steadily building rapprochement between the two countries in the last year.

Not long ago, however, the photo-op capturing the two heads of state smiling at one another in Doha would have seemed impossible. In the wake of the Armed Forces’ ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood government in 2013, Qatar and Egypt traded barbs.

In the lexicon of the intelligence-controlled Egyptian press landscape, Qatar had been part of an “axis of evil” working to undermine Egypt’s stability. Al Jazeera, the main Qatari outlet, was banned from Egypt, but, from its social media accounts and television broadcast, it regularly published salacious and insulting details about the Egyptian administration.

But all of that vitriol is now gone.

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