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Saturday 9 December 2023 Dublin: 10°C
je suis charlie

'Ink should flow, not blood': Up to 1.6 million people attend 'unity' rally in Paris

“Today, Paris is the capital of the world,” French President Francois Hollande told the emotional crowd that gathered in the city centre today.

Updated 6pm

FRANCE 24 English / YouTube

SOME 1.6 MILLION people flooded Paris during today’s massive ‘unity’ rally in a historic display of global defiance against extremism after attacks that left 17 dead this week.

In total, at least 3.7 million people in France marched in the biggest mobilisation ever recorded in the country.

AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

As evening fell, the crowds remained in the city centre, basking in the atmosphere of unity that hung in the air all day.

French President Francois Hollande led the procession from the Place de la Republique, flanked by world leaders, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny, and followed by a crowd of hundreds of thousands.

Carrying placards and chanting “Charlie! Charlie!” in memory of the journalists and policeman gunned down at the offices of Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday, the crowds had been gathering since early this morning.

The crowd was also marking the death of four Jews killed when an Islamist gunman stormed a kosher supermarket and a policewoman gunned down in cold blood.

Mideast Lebanon France AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images

Emotions ran high in the grieving City of Light, with many of those marching bursting into tears as they came together under the banner of freedom of speech and liberty after France’s worst terrorist bloodbath in more than half a century.

The crowd brandished banners saying: “I’m French and I’m not scared” and, in tribute to the murdered cartoonists, “Make fun, not war” and “Ink should flow, not blood.”

The grieving families of those who died in the shootings led the march, alongside the representatives of around 50 countries.

Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo columnist, fell sobbing into the arms of Hollande in an emotional embrace.

France Attacks Rally Michel Euler / AP/PA Charlie Hebdo newspaper staff, with editorialist Patrick Pelloux, right, cartoonist Renald Luzier, known as Luz, left,. Michel Euler / AP/PA / AP/PA

In an unprecedented show of unity, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority both attended the rally to honour the victims of three days of bloodshed that claimed the lives of both Jews and a Muslim police officer.

Security was beefed up as the City of Light reels from the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. Thousands of extra troops and police were also deployed to guard the march and snipers positioned along the route.

“Today, Paris is the capital of the world,”  Hollande said earlier.

“The entire country will rise up.”

AP / Press Association Images AP / Press Association Images / Press Association Images


Along with Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, top European leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron joined Hollande at the front of the march.

US President Barack Obama was represented by Attorney General Eric Holder.

Christophe Ena Christophe Ena

Taoiseach Enda Kenny also attended today’s event. A spokesperson said this morning that his participation was “a demonstration of Ireland’s solidarity with the French people at this tragic time”.

From New York to Tokyo, similar events have been taking place around the world this weekend.

In Dublin, a silent march in began at The Spire on O’Connell Street at midday, while events were also held in Cork and Galway.

Includes reporting from © AFP, 2015 and Michelle Hennessy.

Read: Want to head to a French ‘unity’ event today? Here’s what’s happening near you

Read: Across the world, vigils for the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack

As it happened: Charlie Hebdo suspects dead and four hostages killed in Jewish store

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