Thousands in fresh rallies worldwide for Paris attack victims

SHAFAQNA – Thousands of people took to the streets in France and other countries again Thursday to condemn the killing of 12 people by Islamist gunmen at Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. In Paris, thousands of people packed Republique square, about a kilometre from the scene of Wednesday’s massacre, for a second night running. The square’s monument to the Republic has become a shrine to the victims of the worst terrorist attack in France for half a century and, more generally, freedom of expression.

Flowers, candles and cartoons — a tribute to the five cartoonists killed in the attack by two men out to avenge cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed who are still being sought by police — covered the base of the structure.

Many of the protesters carried placards bearing the “Je suis Charlie” (I am Charlie) slogan that has become a global cry for solidarity in the wake of the attacks.

Some came armed with pens, a symbol of press freedom.

Expressing the mood in the numbed capital Mayor Anne Hidalgo told the gathering Parisians felt the need “to stand together and stick together”.

On Wednesday, around 100,000 people thronged impromptu gatherings across France to pay tribute to the victims and acclaim Charlie Hebdo’s cartoonists as heroes.

Vigils were also held in New York, Washington and Canada.

While the numbers at Thursday’s vigils in France were lower, across the world people continued to mobilise in solidarity with the French press and people.

In the Netherlands, thousands poured onto the streets in The Hague and Rotterdam to condemn extremism.

“Tonight I am Parisian and I am Charlie; tonight we are all Parisian and we are all Charlie,” Rotterdam Mayor Ahmed Aboutaleb said in French.

In Rome, several thousand people attended a rally outside the French embassy, while in Moscow, around 100 people defied temperatures of minus 10 degrees Celsius to lay flowers outside the French mission.

People also gathered in their hundreds in Athens, Belgrade, Budapest, Frankfurt, Geneva, Lisbon, Prague and Zagreb.

In Africa, dozens of reporters paid respects to their slain French counterparts outside the French embassy in the former French colony of Togo.

A second consecutive protest was also planned in London.

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