Hundreds of thousands of people rallied across France on Saturday to decry the terror attacks that left 17 dead over three days of violence, which began with an assault on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday in Paris.
Al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen claimed responsibility for the Jan. 9 attack, saying in a statement provided to the Associated Press that the act was “revenge for the honor” of the prophet Muhammad. The journal Charlie Hebdo is known for its provocative cartoons, which are often critical of religions, including Islam.
Demonstrators held up pens, pencils and placards with the words “Je suis Charlie,” meaning “I am Charlie,” expressing solidarity with the victims. At least 120,000 people marched in Toulouse, 75,000 in Nantes and 50,000 in Marseille, Reuters reported.
— JS Evrard (@JSEvrard) January 10, 2015
The attacks on the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo also inspired rallies across the globe, as people from Hong Kong to Barcelona, Spain, expressed support for freedom of speech in the wake of the killings.
In Morocco, a group of activists and journalists stood outside the Agence France-Presse news agency offices in Rabat, the country’s capital city.
In Spain, a group held pencils and placards outside the French consulate in Barcelona as tribute.
In Hong Kong, the International Federation of Journalists organized a vigil at Statue Square on Jan. 9.
And on Jan. 8, renowned Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created an 8-foot high sand sculpture to honor the victims of the Paris massacre. He used five tons of sand to create the sculpture, the Odisha Sun Times reported.
A unity rally planned for Sunday in Paris is expected to draw an enormous crowd. A number of world political figures have said they would attend, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve told reporters that additional security measures would be deployed in anticipation of the march.
“French people must know all measures have been taken to ensure this demonstration can take place in harmony, respect and of course safety. For those who want to attend it, they can attend in all safety,” he said.