PARIS (AFP) – Hundreds of thousands of people and dozens of world leaders marched together through Paris Sunday in a historic show of solidarity and defiance after terrorist attacks in the French capital that claimed 17 lives.
French President Francois Hollande and leaders including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas marched at the front of the mammoth pro-cession, which began near where gunmen killed 12 people at satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
A sea of humanity flowed through Paris’ iconic streets, breaking into applause and spontaneous renditions of the national anthem, as a shell-shocked France mourned the victims of three days of bloody violence.
“Charlie! Charlie!” chanted the vast crowd, in honour of the cartoonists and journalists killed at Charlie Hebdo.
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 families of those who died in the shootings led the march, alongside heads of state and royalty.
The king and queen of Jordan were present alongside a host of top European leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron.
Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pledged that Europe “will win the challenge against terrorism”. Earlier he had tweeted using the hashtag #jesuischarlie (I am Charlie), which has already been used more than five million times.
Europe will “win the challenge against terrorism,” pledged the Italian leader.