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Over one million people poured into the streets of Paris on Sunday in a march to honor the victims of three days of violence which began with the massacre of 12 people at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday.
A total of 17 people were killed in what has been described as the worst terror attack on French soil in decades.
Demonstrators make their way along Boulevrd Voltaire in a unity rally in Paris following the recent terrorist attacks on Jan. 11 in Paris, France. Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
The rally for unity is said to be the largest demonstration in French history.
A ministry spokesman said between 1.2 and 1.6 million people participated in Paris, and that 2.5 million marched in other cities across France, Reuters reported.
World leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas join French President Francois Hollande (center) at the solidarity march on Jan. 11 in Paris. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
World leaders from across Europe as well as Israel and the Palestinian territories linked arms with President Francois Hollande of France at the head of the march, which began at Place de la République in central Paris.
“Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side,” Hollande said in a statement.
A demonstrator shows solidarity with the victims of what is being called the worst terror attack on French soil in decades on Jan. 11 in Paris. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
The rally was held to show “the power, the dignity of the French people who will be shouting out of love of freedom and tolerance,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls said Saturday.
“Journalists were killed because they defended freedom. Policemen were killed because they were protecting you. Jews were killed because they were Jewish,” he said. “The indignation must be absolute and total — not for three days only, but permanently.”
Amid a heavy security presence — which included over 2,000 police officers and soldiers — marchers waving French flags and carrying oversized pencils made their way down Boulevard Voltaire in the city’s 11th district.
Police snipers were stationed on rooftops and security officials searched city sewers ahead of the march, Reuters reported. Underground subway stations were closed down along the route.
A woman holds a cardboard sign reading “Je suis Charlie, je suis Juive, je suis Musulmane, je suis Francaise,” meaning “I am Charlie, I am Jewish, I am a Muslim, I am French” during a unity rally in Paris on Jan. 11. Credit: Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images
On Saturday evening a German newspaper that reprinted satirical cartoons by Charlie Hedbo in a show of solidarity was hit by arsonists, raising tensions ahead of the march.
Two people were arrested for throwing an incendiary device into the building of the Hamburger Morgenpost daily, Reuters reported. No one was in the building at the time of the firebombing.
Hamburg police said it was “too soon” to tell if there was a connection between the arson attack and the newspaper’s Charlie Hebdo tribute, Agence France-Presse reported.
The National Gallery is lit in the blue, white and red colors of the French flag in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris as seen on Jan. 11 in London, England. Credit: Rob Stothard/Getty Images
Elsewhere in Europe, solidarity marches were held in cities from Berlin to Brussels. In London, iconic landmarks including the Tower Bridge and National Gallery were lit up with the colors of the French flag, as a tribute to the victims.
Some 20,000 people march on January 11, 2015 in Brussels in tribute to the 17 victims of the three-day killing spree in France that ended on January 9. Credit: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP/Getty Images
In the days following the terror attacks in Paris, demonstrators have gathered in city streets across the globe in defense of freedom of the press.
From Barcelona to Hong Kong, many carried signs that said “Je suis Charlie.”
Elisabeth Ponsot (Beth) is the Digital News Editor at PBS NewsHour Weekend, where she oversees the program's online team.
Carey Reed assists in covering breaking and feature news for NewsHour Weekend's website. She also helps the NewsHour Weekend broadcast team in the production of the show. She is interested in the flourishing fields of data journalism and information visualization and recently graduated, with honors, from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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