On Friday evening, the City of Light turned pitch black. Terrorists—in the form of masked suicide bombers and gunmen—massacred at least 127 people in a series of coordinated attacks across Paris.
An estimated 100 people were killed inside Le Bataclan, a concert hall in the 11th arrondissement, after a trio of terrorists armed with AK-47s detonated explosive vests during a show by the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal. The suicide bombing followed a hostage standoff between the attackers and French police stationed outside the venue, with the madmen executing hostages one by one inside.
One eyewitness inside the Bataclan told The New York Times that one of the gunmen blamed the French president, yelling in French, “This is because of all the harm done by Hollande to Muslims all over the world.”
Friday night’s edition of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, which is filmed live, saw the political satirist address the people of Paris during his opening monologue.
“Before we get to the hilarity, we hope, I just want to say one thing to the people of Paris,” Maher said, before launching into an abbreviated version of the French national anthem “La Marseillaise.”
“Now I’m not a very good singer,” added Maher, “but that’s my way of saying: We’re with you.”
Then, Maher welcomed journalist and author Asra Q. Nomani—a Daily Beast contributor, who is Muslim—for a sit-down interview prior to his panel. And Maher, as is his wont, laid into radical Islam. “How could [liberals] not stand up against Sharia Law, which is the law in so many Muslim countries, which is the law of oppression?” Maher said.
“I am absolutely sure that ISIS thinks that everything they do—every horrific crime, every atrocity—is an act of justice, and an act for god,” he continued, later adding, “First of all, I’m not ‘demonizing,’ I’m characterizing. How did we get to this place where just describing something is demonizing, and I’m not so sure it’s a very small percentage. Maybe it’s a small percentage who carry out terrorist acts, but it’s not a small percentage who believe in some of the illiberal ideas that support terrorists.” During the panel portion of the broadcast, Maher got into the Paris massacre.
“When the Charlie Hebdo thing happened and the week after everyone said ‘Je Suis Charlie,’ not really. They didn’t really stick with them like Asra and I were just talking about,” said Maher. “I’m going to ask you this question that people asked after 9/11, because I don’t think we still know the answer: Why do they hate us?”
The panel then fell silent—before panelist Dylan Ratigan brought up the U.S. funding Saudi Arabia as one reason that Islamic terrorists are upset with America.
“That’s not what terrorists say,” said Maher. When you capture one, or when they leave a note, you know what they say? Because you’re in Muslim lands. I have a crazy idea: Why don’t we get out of Muslim lands?”
Maher then shifted the discussion to ISIS, with the host contending that you “can’t completely wipe out all your enemies.” Later on, in what is sure to be the most controversial line of the night, Maher suggested that the West bombing ISIS in the Middle East is what caused the Paris attacks to happen.
“But bombing them over there is what is causing the Paris thing to happen! That connection needs to be made. We don’t have to be bombing them there,” said Maher, before discussing how the U.S. military should vacate the Middle East and let other Middle East countries take on the fight against ISIS.
“We just need popcorn! Just sit back and watch this!” he exclaimed. “This is crazy!”