EurActiv.com

EU news and policy debates across languages

07/12/2016

The world marches in solidarity with France

Justice & Home Affairs

The world marches in solidarity with France

Unity march placard. Brussels, 11 January.

[Joel Schalit]

Tens of thousands of people around the world took to the streets in solidarity with France over last week’s terrorist attacks that killed 17 people, primarily at the Paris office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Hours before the Paris march, which gathered two million people , hundreds demonstrated in Sydney and in Tokyo.

Israel

In Israel, where four French Jews killed in a Paris supermarket attack last week are to be buried, about a thousand people gathered at Jerusalem City Hall in front of a screen reading, in French, “Jerusalem is Charlie.”

“This is an attack on all of us — on the Jewish people, on freedom of the media and expression,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said, as quoted by the Times of Israel. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said a prayer for all 17 victims.

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.

West Bank and Gaza

Dozens of Palestinians also held a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, waving Palestinian and French flags and holding up banners reading “Palestine stands with France against terrorism.”

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

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.”

Beirut

In Beirut, the solidarity event launched by the Samir Kassir Foundation – SKeyes Center for Freedom of the press and culture, gathered several political and media personalities, and a hundred citizens, the daily L’Orient Le Jour reported.

“I’m here in solidarity,” Ramzi Joreige, the Minister of Information, was quoted as saying. He added that the Lebanese had suffered like French people of terrorism on Saturday in Jabal Mohsen in Tripoli, where a double kamikaze attack in a café took the lie of 9 people.

Kids in solidarity. Brussels, 11 January.

Washington

In the US capital, International Monetary Fund President Christine Lagarde and France’s Ambassador to Washington, Gérard Araud, led about 1,000 mostly silent marchers, Bloomberg reported.

The solidarity march took from the Newseum, a monument to free speech, to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, where a picture of a police officer slain outside the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo was on display inside a wreath.

Two lines of American law enforcement officers awaited the marchers when they reached the monument and the crowd, led by Lagarde, sang the French national anthem. Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland was the only official representative.

Montreal

In Montreal, Canada, more than 25 000 people took part in a solidarity march, Radio Canada reported.

The event, organized at the initiative of the collective “I’m Charlie Montreal”, has left from the Festival Plaza, in downtown of Montreal. Several officials took part in the march, including Mayor Denis Coderre, cabinet ministers Yves Bolduc.

Holding French, Quebec and Israeli flags, the march took to the Consulate of France, where a minute’s silence was observed.

Madrid

In Madrid’s Puerta de Sol, hundreds descended on the streets with blue, white and red French flags, and sang “La Marseillaise”, AFP reported.

Hundreds of Muslims also gathered at Madrid’s Atocha station, scene of Spain’s worst terror attack, the March 11, 2004 train bombings that saw Al-Qaeda-inspired bombers kill 191 people.

Veiled women with young children joined groups of young men at the rally, holding up signs that read “I am Muslim and I am not a terrorist.”

Berlin

Around 18,000 people gathered in front of the French embassy, next to the Brandenburg Gate, in Berlin; some held up Charlie Hebdo cartoons, while others held pens or signs saying “Je suis Charlie,” and other variations on the theme, Deutsche Welle reported.

The march comes a day after Germany’s 35,000 people protested against the anti-Islam movement PEGIDA, in Dresden.

A smaller demonstration also paraded through the streets of Bonn on Sunday evening, ending at the Friedensplatz square in the city center.

London, Brussels and elsewhere

London’s Trafalgar Square was filled with around 2,000 people raising pencils to the sky and the iconic Tower Bridge and the National Gellery were illuminated in the red white and blue of the French flag.

Elsewhere in Europe, 12,000 people rallied in Vienna and about 3,000 people turned out in driving snow in Stockholm, while some 2,000 people marched in Dublin. In Brussels, Belgian cartoonist Philippe Geluck was among a crowd of 20,000, saying he was marching “in honour of my fallen friends” at Charlie Hebdo.

Further Reading