October 17, 2021

PM to join Hollande as 1million people prepare to march through Paris

PM to join Hollande as 1million people prepare to march through ParisAn estimated 3.7million gathered in shows of solidarity across France today in tribute to those killed by terrorists

  • Unprecedented crowds were seen in Paris where millions walked the capital’s streets chanting ‘Je suis Charlie’
  • British Prime Minister David Cameron linked arms with other world leaders to lead the proceedings this afternoon
  • President Francois Hollande began the march, poignantly telling crowds: ‘Today, Paris is the capital of the world’
  • Elsewhere crowds gathered in major world cities, with famous monuments illuminated in the Tricolor 

Published: 06:37 EST, 11 January 2015 | Updated: 17:51 EST, 11 January 2015

More than three million people gathered across France today to stage defiant marches in a moving tribute to the 17 people killed in terror attacks across the country last week.

With the majority flocking to the capital where cartoonists and passers-by were murdered by Islamic fanatics last week, British Prime Minister David Cameron joined crowds marching in their memory.

Arm in arm with President Francois Hollande and a host of other world leaders, he was among an estimated two million people marching through the city.

Elsewhere, US Attorney General Eric Holder joined officials, including Home Secretary Theresa Mary, at the Interior Ministry where talks were held about threats posed by Islamist extremism.

Standing in a front-row of world leaders near Place de la Republique shortly before 3pm, President Holland told crowds: ‘Today, Paris is the capital of the world.’

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An estimated 3.7million people marched across France today, the majority gathering in Paris (above) to pay tribute to those killed by terrorists in a swathe of attacks across the capital last week
An estimated 3.7million people marched across France today, the majority gathering in Paris (above) to pay tribute to those killed by terrorists in a swathe of attacks across the capital last week

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As night fell in the French capital, tens of thousands of people continued marching in 'unprecedented' numbers. Today saw more people flock to the city's streets than ever before in its history
As night fell in the French capital, tens of thousands of people continued marching in ‘unprecedented’ numbers. Today saw more people flock to the city’s streets than ever before in its history

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Thousands remained in Place de la Nation this evening after some five hours of marching in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and supermarket massacres
Thousands remained in Place de la Nation this evening after some five hours of marching in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo and supermarket massacres

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Local newspapers reported the crowds as being as large as two million people, with an 'unprecedented' number of people turning out in the French capital
Local newspapers reported the crowds as being as large as two million people, with an ‘unprecedented’ number of people turning out in the French capital
Protesters wave pencils and flags at Place de la Nation as the rally continued past dusk, with chants of 'Charlie' and the national anthem ringing loudly
Protesters wave pencils and flags at Place de la Nation as the rally continued past dusk, with chants of ‘Charlie’ and the national anthem ringing loudly
Youths release green flares from the monument in Place de la Nation tonight as crowds remain in the city's streets after hours of marching
Youths release green flares from the monument in Place de la Nation tonight as crowds remain in the city’s streets after hours of marching
Youngsters scale the monument in Place de la Nation square in Paris tonight following a day of defiant marches
Jubilance in the Place de la Nation where giant pencils on sticks and flags were waved after a lengthy march through the city
Crowds carried inflatable pencils and Tricolors throughout the day
Jubilance in the Place de la Nation where giant pencils on sticks and flags were waved after a lengthy march through the city
Journalists and protesters wave banners and signs in support of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which came under siege last week when terrorists stormed its office
Journalists and protesters wave banners and signs in support of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical magazine which came under siege last week when terrorists stormed its office
Francois Hollande joined mourners at Paris Grand Synagogue for an evening memorial service held for those killed at a kosher supermarket
Francois Hollande joined mourners at Paris Grand Synagogue for an evening memorial service held for those killed at a kosher supermarket
Solidarity: Protesters hold up signs spelling out the word as crowds cease to disperese in Paris this evening after hours of peaceful protest
Solidarity: Protesters hold up signs spelling out the word as crowds cease to disperese in Paris this evening after hours of peaceful protest
French President Francois Hollande is surrounded by leaders including Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron (left), Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (fourth right), Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (third right) and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (right)
French President Francois Hollande is surrounded by leaders including Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron (left), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (fourth right), Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (third right) and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel (right)
United: European Commission President President Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Netanyahu, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Keita, Mrs Merkel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as they attend the march
United: European Commission President President Jean-Claude Juncker, Mr Netanyahu, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, Mr Keita, Mrs Merkel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi as they attend the march
Arm in arm, world leaders, left to right: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Jordan's Queen Rania, Jordan's King Abdullah II, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other guests
Arm in arm, world leaders, left to right: Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt, European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Union President Donald Tusk, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, Jordan’s Queen Rania, Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and other guests
Record crowds were seen in Paris today as an estimated two million people took to the streets in protest against the massacres
Record crowds were seen in Paris today as an estimated two million people took to the streets in protest against the massacres
As dusk fell in the French capital tens of thousands of people remained in the streets some five hours after they began
As dusk fell in the French capital tens of thousands of people remained in the streets some five hours after they began
Crowds march behind a giant black and white banner reading 'Nous sommes Charlie' (We are Charlie) as night falls on Boulevard Voltaire
Crowds march behind a giant black and white banner reading ‘Nous sommes Charlie’ (We are Charlie) as night falls on Boulevard Voltaire
World leaders link arms in Charlie Hebdo solidarity

Local media reports suggested as many as three million people had turned out to march in defiance of the threats issued by Muslim fanatics responsible for the attacks at the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine, and in a kosher supermarket last week.

Among them was Isabelle Gabarre, who had travelled from her home in Rouen, Normandy, with her daughter Mathilde.

She told MailOnline: ‘We are here to support freedom. We cannot be beaten. It is an important word, not only here in France, but around the world.

‘We are proud of all the people here today. We want to show the world we are united and we are not scared.’

And Anne-Claire Davy, who lives on the Avenue de la Republique where the march passed through, said she was delighted by the march.

She said: ‘This is a show of defiance by Paris, by France and by the world. This is exactly the response I expected. I am very proud of my city today.’

Free public transport was arranged to allow hundreds of thousands of mourners to flood into the city to join the march.

Among world leaders taking part in the rally was British Prime Minister David Cameron who described the event as ‘extraordinary’.

After taking part in the Paris rally, Mr Cameron told Sky News: ‘It was very moving – extraordinary circumstances to be doing it, and an extraordinary set of people to be doing it with.

‘The memory I will have is people leaning out of their windows of all ages with tricolours – the French flag – incredibly proud of their country, proud of their democracy, proud of freedom of speech, and these great signs saying `I am Charlie. I am a police officer. I am a Jew’.

‘People of all ages wanting to show real solidarity. I think we should recognise the values that we have in European countries of believing in democracy and free speech, freedom of expression, the right to offend people and be offended.

‘These are not sources of weakness against this terrorist threat, they are sources of strength.

‘They are what make us great economies, great countries, great societies and it was great to see that in action today.’

As night fell a celebratory atmosphere spread among the remaining crowds, with youngsters scaling the monument in Place de la Republique to chant: ‘Vive la France!’

Still reeling from the shock of the slayings of innocent people across the capital last week, some spoke of their pride at the nation’s resilience to threats against its freedom.

‘When the killings happened, we were in shock because this was an attack on freedom – but today is a proud day for everyone in the city,’ said Alina Mihalcea, 31, from Place de la Nation.

‘When we won the World Cup in 1998, everyone was united and that is what today is like.

‘Whatever you believe, whatever colour you are, wherever you are from – we are all the same.

‘We are all together in the same country and we should live together in the best way that we can.’

Anne-Claire Davy, who lives on the Avenue de la Republique where the march passed through, added: ‘This is a show of defiance by Paris, by France and by the world.

‘This is exactly the response I expected. I am very proud of my city today.’

President Hollande later joined the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin

Tonight, French President Francois Hollande and Isreali Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended a service in rememberance of the dead.

Prayers for the victims were read out in a solemn service at the Grande Synagogue de Paris, with leaders from the Muslim and Christian community also present.

Haim Korsia, Grand Rabbi of France, spoke to the congregation and delivered a message of hope, saying it is vital that the city pursues a shared future.

As police made their way through the crowds, marchers applauded them in recognition of their work during the last week.

In the early morning, hundreds of heavily armed policeman stood guard on the city streets as a tense atmosphere prevailed.

Mourners carried signs reading ‘Je Suis Charlie’ in support of those killed by the Kouachi brothers in the Charlie Hebdo massacre on Wednesday.

The city’s Jewish community was to be represented by rabbis and leaders, paying tribute to the four people murdered by Amedy Coulibaly in Porte de Vincennes, eastern Paris, on Friday.

Security services across the world have reportedly received intelligence that more terror attacks are ‘highly likely’, as a ring of steel was placed around the French capital for today’s march.

By mid-morning, approximately 2,000 police officers and 1,400 soldiers were deployed across Paris in an atmosphere described by one officer on the scene as ‘extremely tense’.

French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said ‘exceptional measures’ were being taken to try and prevent further attacks, including deploying snipers on roofs.

Home Secretary Theresa May is among those scheduled to meet Mr Cazeneuve before the march to discuss the threat posed by Islamic militants.

President Hollande will also meet leaders from Paris’s Jewish community, who are still in shock following the atrocity at the kosher grocery store.

The march will take place along two routes and between two major squares, Place de la Republique and Place de la Nation, with snipers on every rooftop.

‘Exceptional measures are being taken to ensure security and public safety,’ said a spokesman for Paris city hall, who said some 5,500 members of the security forces would be on the streets in total.

He said entire streets would be kept empty to ensure ‘evacuation’ in case of any problems, and to allow ‘the free movement of police and emergency vehicles’.

Sewers and other ‘hidden spaces’ were also being searched before the rally, which had been due to start at 3pm local time (2pm GMT).

The march eventually started 25 minutes late, at 3.25pm, with Mr Hollande standing alongside Mrs Merkel.

But there were no complaints from the crowd, who had put up with extremely cold January temperatures as they waited patiently.

‘We don’t mind if we stand still the whole time,’ said Luc Dufour, a 26-year-old who had travelled from Lyon for the march.

‘Thousands of us knew we had to be here, simply show how much we object to people killing each other.’

Beyond the police marksmen, 150 plainclothes officers will be there to protect VIPs, who will also be assigned 56 specialist police teams trained in diplomatic protection.

Leaders such as Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu will also have their own security teams in place.

Vigipirate, France’s national security alert system, remains at its highest level, as buildings including synagogues and mosques are given particularly protection.

Sydney Beuvry, 20, from Paris, said: ‘I am an artist myself, so freedom of expression is very important to me.

‘I am pleased to see so many people here today in support of all the victims. The people of Paris stand together against terrorism.’

There was a celebratory atmosphere in the city, as the people put on a show of defiance.

A group of youths scaled the monument in Place de la Republique and led the crowd in a passionate chants of ‘Charlie! Liberte!’ and ‘Vive la France!’ in support of freedom as the thousands gathered applauded.

Many countries of the world were represented in the crowd, with flags from Spain, Italy, Germany, Norway, Senegal, Cameroon and Cuba all present.

Vanessa Almedia, 33, said: ‘I’m from Brazil, but have lived here for five years. This was not just an attack on France, this was an attack on the world and on freedom.’

The crowd held a spontaneous moment of silence in honour of the victims, before again breaking into applause and chants of ‘Long live France!’

Anna Demontis, 25, had ‘Je suis Charlie’ painted on her face and said: ‘I am so pleased to see so many people here today. It makes me proud.

‘This is a sign of hope and it shows that the world will not be defeated by terrorism.’

From Madrid to London, and Pisa to Ankara: ‘Je suis Charlie’ demonstrations around the world

Holding pens and placards aloft with black tape across their mouths, thousands gathered around the world in solidarity today to voice their right to free speech.

Cities paying their respects to those killed in Paris included Berlin, Madrid, Jerusalem, Strasbourg, Ankara, Brussels, Glasgow and Pisa as London’s landmarks were lit in the blue, white and red of the tricolore.

In London’s Trafalgar Square, where Nelson’s Column once commemorated Anglo-French hostility, France’s flag was projected onto the walls of the National Gallery as hundreds sang the country’s national anthem.

Also lit were the London Eye and County Hall on the south bank of the Thames, while Tower Bridge was lit alternately in the colours of the French flag.

London mayor Boris Johnson joined the the crowds in Trafalgar Square, telling them: ‘Those people who were responsible for the attack at Charlie Hebdo and in the kosher supermarket had one objective only.

‘That was to divide our societies and communities from one another, to foster mistrust and hatred and suspicion.

‘The worst possible thing would be to allow them to succeed and that’s why it’s so important that so many voices from all communities and across all religions have all joined together to denounce what has happened in Paris.’

Also joining the crowds was deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, just hours after he was slammed by a former security minister for ‘blocking’ an anti-terror bill.

Labour peer Lord West told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show the government’s Communications Data Bill, dubbed a ‘snoopers’ charter’ by opponents, was needed to track terrorist suspects.

The bill allows the security services to monitor who people are emailing and what they are looking at online.

‘I think that needs to go through,’ he said. ‘I was very irked that it was removed, in fact it was removed by the Deputy Prime Minister, when it had all been agreed across all parties.’

Joining the politicians were hundreds of members of the public holding signs saying ‘Je Suis Charlie’. Some held pens in the air as a symbolic gesture to those killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Musician Shantanu Adib, 29, originally from Bangladesh, said he was raised a Muslim and the extremists scare the ‘s***’ out of him.

He stood in the square with a cartoon he had drawn with ‘#Je Suis Charlie’ written underneath, which he said was a picture of an extremist but with a penis for a nose.

The man, who now lives in London, said he had put the picture on Facebook and has since received death threats from the Bangladeshi and Pakistani community.

He said: ‘I am here to express our right to draw whatever we want and to also show solidarity. What happened, it was a planned attack. These guys are obviously well-trained and are practising hard-core Islam.

‘I know they are in the minority, and there are a lot of good Muslims, but there are still a lot of these extremists that only want Sharia law where ever they go. To be honest with you, they scare the s**t out of me.

‘I put my picture on Facebook earlier and I’m getting death threats already from the Pakistani and Bangladeshi community.’

A 44-year-old man, who asked only to be called Jason, said there was disgust and anger about the attacks but he said they have created a movement of ‘love.’

He attended Trafalgar Square with a ‘Je Suis Charlie’ poster attached to his hat.

The man, who moved to London from Aix in the south of France in 1982, said: ‘Something much bigger is happening, we are all coming together as one and showing love and togetherness and I think this is gathering momentum.

‘I think the perpetrators who did this have brought shame on themselves. I was disgusted and angry, but I think this togetherness that is coming out of it is beautiful. There is a movement of love happening.’

A 24-year-old Parisian financial analyst, who lives in east London, said the events that evolved in France were shocking.

‘I’m here working in London for eight months but I lived in Paris my whole life,’ said the man. ‘It was important to come here today to show we are all united and to make a stand for freedom of speech, liberty and democracy.

‘I think it is very worrying that the perpetrators are French and there are lot of French people going off to fight Jihad abroad.

‘Most of all, I think it was shocking the way the attacks were carried out – assassinations.

‘My mother also lives near to where the second hostage taking happened, so it was a very scary, anxious time for me. But we have to show that we are not afraid.’

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