Netanyahu, Abbas among heads-of-state leading over a million in Paris march

Security forces on the highest alert for the event, which will be attended by about 40 heads of state and government.

By REUTERS
January 11, 2015 18:34
4 minute read.
Paris terror attack

Thousands of people to attend a solidarity march. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user uxperience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew, Ivrit
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Repor
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

PARIS - Dozens of world leaders including Muslim and Jewish statesmen linked arms leading more than an one million said participants in an unprecedented march under high security in Paris to pay tribute to victims of Islamist terrorist attacks.

President Francois Hollande and leaders from Germany, Italy, Israel, Turkey, Britain and the Palestinian territories among others, moved off from the central Place de la Republique ahead of a sea of French and other flags. Giant letters attached to a statue in the square spelt out the word Pourquoi?" (Why?) and small groups sang the "La Marseillaise" national anthem.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


An organizer of the said the turnout could surpass one million.

"Fantastic France! I am told there could be as many as 1.3 million to 1.5 million of us in Paris," Francois Lamy, the lawmaker charged by the ruling Socialist Party with organizing the rally, tweeted.

There was no official police estimate.

Some 2,200 police and soldiers patrolled Paris streets to protect marchers from would-be attackers, with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd. City sewers were searched ahead of the vigil and underground train stations around the march route are due to be closed down.

The silent march - which may prove the largest seen in modern times through Paris - reflected shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security, and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks.



"Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side," said Hollande in a statement.

Seventeen people, including journalists and police, were killed in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the weekly Charlie Hebdo known for its satirical attacks on Islam and other religions as well as politicians. It ended on Friday with a hostage-taking at a Jewish deli in which four hostages were killed.

Overnight, an illuminated sign on the Arc de Triomphe read: "Paris est Charlie" ("Paris is Charlie").

A video emerged featuring a man resembling the gunman killed in the kosher deli. He pledged allegiance to the Islamic State insurgent group and urged French Muslims to follow his example. A French anti-terrorist police source confirmed it was the killer, Amedy Coulibaly, speaking before the action.

DISSENTING VOICES

"We're not going to let a little gang of hoodlums run our lives," said Fanny Appelbaum, 75, who said she lost two sisters and a brother in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. "Today, we are all one."

Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag, agreed: "I am here to show the terrorists they have not won - it is bringing people together of all religions."

Among many children brought along to the march, Loris Peres, 12, said: "For me this is paying respect to your loved ones, it's like family ... We did a lesson about this at school."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi were among 44 foreign leaders marching with Hollande. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu - who earlier encouraged French Jews to emigrate to Israel - and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were also present.

Immediately to Hollande's left, walked Merkel and to his right Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. France has provided troops to help fight Islamist rebels there.

While there has been widespread solidarity with the victims, there have been dissenting voices. French social media have carried comments from those uneasy with the "Je suis Charlie" slogan interpreted as freedom of expression at all cost. Others suggest there was hypocrisy in world leaders whose countries have repressive media laws attending the march.

The official estimate on attendance is due to be announced later. A 1995 protest against planned welfare cuts brought some 500,000-800,000 people onto the streets of the capital, while a 2002 rally against the far-right National Front's then leader Jean-Marie Le Pen afer he got into the run-off of that year's presidential election drew 400,000-600,000.

Twelve people were killed in Wednesday's initial attack on Charlie Hebdo, a journal know for satirizing religions and politicians. The attackers, two French-born brothers of Algerian origin, singled out the weekly for its publication of cartoons depicting and ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad.

All three gunmen were killed in what local commentators have called "France's 9/11," a reference to the September 2001 attacks on US targets by al Qaeda.

The head of France's 550,000-strong Jewish community, Roger Cukierman, the largest in Europe, said Hollande had promised that Jewish schools and synagogues would have extra protection, by the army if necessary, after the killings.

France's Agence Juive, which tracks Jewish emigration, estimates more than 5,000 Jews left France for Israel in 2014, up from 3,300 in 2013, itself a 73 percent increase on 2012.

While there has been widespread solidarity with the victims, there have been dissenting voices. French social media have carried comments from those uneasy with the "Je suis Charlie" slogan interpreted as freedom of expression at all cost. Others suggest there was hypocrisy in world leaders whose countries have repressive media laws attending the march.

Related Content

July 19, 2018
UK Labour MP calls Jeremy Corbyn ‘racist’ and ‘antisemite'

By ILANIT CHERNICK