Thousands join rallies worldwide to honor Paris victims

AP News
|
Posted: Jan 11, 2015 10:29 PM
Thousands join rallies worldwide to honor Paris victims

Tens of thousands of people gathered in cities around the world on Sunday to honor the 17 victims who died during three days of bloodshed in Paris last week, and to support freedom of expression.

The biggest event was in Paris, where over a million people, including more than 40 world leaders, streamed into the heart of the city for a rally of national unity, days after the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and a kosher grocery.

A look at the gatherings in other cities across the globe:

___

BERLIN

About 18,000 people gathered in front of the French embassy next to Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate in an impressive show of solidarity for the victims of the Paris attacks. Many brought flowers or pencils and help up signs saying "Je suis Charlie" or "Je suis Juif" (I am a Jew).

Some protesters also held up cartoons published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and played French chansons on CD players they had brought along. Many participants at the rally were French citizens, but altogether, the crowd reflected the cosmopolitan flair of Berlin — people could be heard speaking a mélange of German, English, French, Russian and many other European languages.

Marieke Zwarter, a 24-year-old Dutch university student who studies film and lives in Berlin, said she attended the rally to "show that we should not be afraid and will not allow these terrorists to divide our societies."

Her friend, 20-year-old Russian Polina Panfilova, who studies political science in Berlin, was carrying white flowers.

"It's important that we're all here," she said. "We are sending a clear signal that we won't let the terrorists win."

___

LONDON

Landmarks including Tower Bridge and the London Eye ferris wheel were lit in the red, white and blue of the French tricolor flag. The French colors were also projected onto the facade of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square, where more than 1,000 people gathered Sunday in solidarity with the French people.

Many carried "Je suis Charlie" signs, and some held pens aloft as a tribute to the slain cartoonists.

Mayor Boris Johnson attended the rally and said it had been organized to express with Paris "our feelings of unity in grief and in outrage, and obviously in determination of these two great historic cities of freedom to stand together."

London has been hit by several major terrorist attacks, the most lethal in July 2005, when four al-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 52 people on three subway trains and a bus.

___

WASHINGTON

About 3,000 people took part in a silent march through the U.S. capital, according to the French Embassy which organized the event.

Gerard Araud, France's ambassador to the U.S., led the march which began at the Newseum downtown and finished at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where participants stopped for a moment of silence.

The march began at the Newseum downtown and concluded at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where participants held a moment of silence for the victims.

France's Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was among those participating in the march.

___

BOSTON

Hundreds of people took part in a rally on Boston Common to support France and free speech. The gathering was organized by the French Consulate and the city's French community to coincide with the massive anti-terrorism rally in Paris.

The Boston demonstrators held a moment of silence for those killed this week in Paris. Some held French flags and banners reading in French, "I am Charlie" and "Boston is France."

There also were blue-and-yellow "Boston Strong" banners remembering the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and injured more than 260. Jury selection began this week in the federal trial of bombing suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, who faces the death penalty.

Boston, like the French capital, was shocked by the attack and endured days of tension before authorities caught up with the terror suspects — who as in Paris were a pair of brothers. One died after a shootout with police and the other was captured. Jury selection began last week in the federal trial of the surviving brother, Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, who faces the death penalty if convicted.

Carlos Arrendondo, a Costa Rican immigrant known for helping a man who lost both legs at the marathon finish line, was among those at Sunday's rally.

"Boston has been there in the past and we are still healing from that," Arrendondo told WCBV-TV. "It's time to support the people of France as well."

Frank DuBourdieu and Raphaelle DuBourdieu, French citizens living in Cambridge, told WBZ-TV they wanted to spread a message of tolerance.

"Islam is not bad," Frank DuBourdieu said. "We have to make sure that France is going to continue to welcome people but reject any violence."

In Denver, about 100 people gathered to honor the victims of the Paris attacks. Isabelle Soller, who grew up in France, carried a sign reading "Je suis Charlie. I am Jewish."

___

ROME

Thousands of people participated in a silent demonstration Sunday in front of the French Embassy, holding aloft pencils, candles and placards reading: "Je suis Charlie." The demonstration was jointly organized by the French consulate and by Italy's Muslim community.

"We condemn this terrible attack with absolute firmness and we want to express solidarity to the French people and to the French ambassador in the name of all the Muslim communities in Italy," said Foad Aodi, president of Comai, an association of Muslims in Italy.

Elene Bompere, a French citizen living in Rome, said the attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market "provokes a strong reaction."

A small demonstration was also held in Venice's Campo Manin, drawing many young people. Participants included the president of Venice's Islamic community, Mohamed Amin Al Ahdab, and the head of the lagoon city's Jewish community, Paolo Gnignati.

___

BRUSSELS

About 20,000 people marched silently through the center of Brussels, carrying banners reading "Je suis Charlie" and "United Against Hatred."

A bomb threat Sunday afternoon forced the evacuation of the offices of the offices of the Brussels newspaper Le Soir, but several hours later there was no indication of anything serious going on.

In the city of Ghent, in western Belgium, about 3,000 people took part in a silent march.

___

VIENNA

With flags at half-staff over Parliament and government buildings, about 12.000 people joined Austrian political and religious leaders in downtown Vienna to pay homage to the victims of the Paris terrorist shootings.

A government statement served notice that official Austria would not be cowed by the attacks. "No one can extinguish our democracy and our freedom," said the statement, read by two well-known Austrian actors. Others read texts by famed German writers focusing on equality and brotherhood

The crowd first formed in front of the French Embassy, then moved to the square separating the palaces serving as the offices of Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Werner Faymann. Both were in attendance at the rally, along with government ministers, Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, and the heads of Austria's Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox Christian and other religious communities.

The crowd, many of them holding white-on-black "Je suis Charlie" signs, held a moment of silence for the attack victims. The Vienna State Opera Choir sang works by Mozart and Verdi.

___

MADRID

Hundreds of people gathered in Madrid to express their revulsion at the Paris attacks and support for freedom of speech.

Several hundred Muslims carrying banners saying "Not in our name" rallied at Madrid's Atocha square, next to the train station where in March 2004 bombs on rush-hour trains killed 191 people in Europe's deadliest Islamic terror attack. A small group of Muslim religious leaders then laid a wreath with a ribbon saying "In solidarity with France" outside the French Embassy in Madrid where the ambassador received them.

At nearby Puerta del Sol square, hundreds of mainly French protesters drew cartoons and held aloft signs saying "Je suis Charlie."

Rallies were also held in Barcelona and Valencia.

___

MOSCOW

About a hundred people, mostly French citizens, took part in a so-called Silent March in Moscow's Gorky Park to honor the 17 victims of the terror attacks in France and show support for freedom of expression.

"I am a French citizen who wants to tell the terrorists that we will fight against the terror and for freedom," said France's ambassador to Russia, Jean-Maurice Ripert, who was among the marchers.

In the evening, dozens of Muscovites came to the French Embassy to lay flowers and express their solidarity.

___

BUENOS AIRES

Hundreds of people gathered outside the French Embassy in Buenos Aires to express their rejection of the bloodshed in France, some holding signs that read "Buenos Aires est Charlie."

Demonstrators alternately sang the Argentine and French national anthems.

The French ambassador in Argentina, Jean-Michel Casa, emerged to thank the demonstrators. "The world is united against this crazy minority, which represents no one and above all doesn't represent a god in the name of which they claim to act," he said.

___

MONTREAL

Thousands of people, repeatedly chanting "Charlie," marched through downtown Montreal in French-speaking Quebec Province to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.

Laurent Beltritti, a French flight attendant on a Montreal stopover, was among those who participating in the march.

"As I couldn't attend the event in France with my friends and family, I thought it was important to come here to show my solidarity and to protest in favor of freedom and the right to express oneself without being killed by fanatics," Beltritti said.

Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre also took part in the march, which ended at the French Consulate, and said there needs to be "zero-tolerance against fanaticism."

In Quebec City, Premier Philippe Couillard attended a similar event.

"We have to reaffirm our faith in democracy and freedom," Couillard said. "The worst thing we could do would be to retreat into fear."

___

TORONTO

Hundreds of people gathered outside Toronto's City Hall to voice their support for the victims of the Paris attacks in a somber event that saw many participants quietly holding pens, signs and flowers.

"Nothing can really make you come to terms with such barbaric acts, but it certainly is a validation of how people of all faiths and all colors can come together peacefully," said Fabienne Thuet, who holds dual Canadian and French citizenship. "In a way the terrorists have achieved exactly the opposite of what they wanted to do and that's a beautiful testimony to what we can do as human beings."

Dozens of people gathered in Vancouver, British Columbia, where a French flag waved in the air as people sang the French national anthem before marching silently through downtown streets.

A small rally was also held in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Local media reports said the flag at the city's Grand Parade Square was flying at half-mast and many of those attending held up pens in support of press freedom.

___

ISTANBUL

Scores of demonstrators gathered in central Istanbul for a small solidarity rally with France.

Minutes after the remembrance got underway, a man, apparently critical of the gesture, tried to cut them off, shouting "Muslim blood is being shed!" The man was detained and carried away by riot police.

The silent march continued despite the interruption. About 120 people holding up pencils, pens and posters reading "We are all Charlie" walked down Istanbul's main Istiklal Avenue toward the French consulate.

___

BEIRUT

Around 200 protesters gathered in the Lebanese capital Beirut to condemn the attacks in France, carrying signs that said "We are not afraid," and "Je Suis Ahmed," — referring to the French Muslim police officer, Ahmed Merabet, who was killed as he confronted the gunmen fleeing from the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The demonstration was made more poignant for its location: a reflective pool built to commemorate a prominent Arab writer, Samir Kassir, who was assassinated 10 years ago during a spate of killings that targeted politicians and writers living in Lebanon who were critical of neighboring Syria.

___

JERUSALEM

Several hundred people gathered at a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem's City Hall to express solidarity with France and the French Jewish community. The gathering, led by Mayor Nir Barket and the city's chief rabbi, included many French Jewish immigrants to Israel.

Many participants held signs saying "Je Suis Charlie," or "Israel is Charlie," written in Hebrew. The city said it was hoisting 1,500 French flags throughout Jerusalem, and setting up a makeshift memorial downtown where people could post sympathy notes.

Many Israelis have identified with France, both because of Israel's long history battling Islamic militants and because four of the victims in Paris were Jewish.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a delegation to attend the mass rally in Paris and later visited a synagogue with French President Francois Hollande.

___

RAMALLAH

About 200 Palestinians and foreign supporters held a solidarity rally in the central Manara Square in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Participants held French and Palestinian flags.

Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said France and the Palestinians share the same values — liberty, equality and "saving the modern civilization against the criminals who are spreading all across the Arab world and they have attacked the heart of France."

___

GAZA CITY

In Gaza, about 20 people held a candlelight vigil outside the French Cultural Center in solidarity with France and to condemn the Paris attacks.

"We are here in this vigil against terrorism," said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. "The French people are friends of the Palestinian people and support them, so we are supporting them in return."

The French Center has been closed to the public since December when unknown assailants detonated explosives targeting its exterior walls several weeks after a similar attack on the building.

Gaza's Hamas leaders have condemned the attack on the French satirical newspaper, but have pointedly refrained from mentioning the attack on the kosher supermarket in which four Jews were killed.

On Sunday, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to make a connection between the Palestinian militants and the Paris attackers.

"Hamas'... resistance is a legitimate one. It is a party that protects our citizens, our lands and our holy places," he said.

___

SYDNEY

Hundreds of people rallied in downtown Sydney's Martin Place, a plaza where a shotgun-wielding Islamic State movement supporter took 18 people hostage in a cafe last month. The standoff ended 16 hours later when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire to free the captives. Two of the hostages and the gunman died.

More than 500 Australians and French nationals stood side by side holding signs bearing the words "Je suis Charlie" — French for "I am Charlie" — and "Freedom" as they marched in condemnation of the Paris attacks.

"We have to stand united," France's ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, told the crowd.

Among the French now residing in Sydney who attended the rally was Felix Delhomme, 27.

"People are sending a message that we're all together," he said. "We want to be able to maintain our freedom of speech. We are mostly concerned about the backlash there might be against the Muslim community. They're not more responsible for what happened than I am."

___

TOKYO

A couple of hundred people, mostly French residents of Japan, gathered in the courtyard of the French Institute in Tokyo, holding a minute of silence and singing "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. They then held up pieces of paper that read "Je suis Charlie" in French or the Japanese translation.

The institute, which functions as a language school, was running as normal during the ceremony, with students shuffling in, as the French flag — tied with a black ribbon — hung over the balcony.

"I came here to give support to fellow artists and I believe we should stand so these things don't happen again," said Alexandre Kerbam, 43, a French resident of Japan who works as a body painter and hair stylist.

___

Associated Press journalists Jill Lawless in London, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Ben Nuckols in Washington, Annalisa Camilli in Rome, Colleen Barry in Milan, George Jahn in Vienna, Desmond O. Butler in Istanbul, Vladimir Kondrashov in Moscow, Diaa Hadid in Beirut, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Patricia Luna in Santiago, Chile, and Kaori Hitomi in Tokyo, Harold Heckle in Madrid, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, Moshe Edri in Jerusalem, and Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report.