Tens of thousands of people rallied worldwide in solidarity with France on Sunday, with marchers across Europe and the Middle East chanting “Je suis Charlie” and holding pens in the air.
From Berlin to London and Jerusalem to Beirut, crowds waved French flags and sang the anthem “La Marseillaise,” following a series of Islamist attacks that killed 17 people in Paris last week, including four at a kosher market.
Christians, Muslims and Jews alike took part in the rallies, held as around 3.7 million people took to the streets in unity marches in France.
In Israel, where four French Jews killed in a Paris supermarket attack last week are to be buried, about a thousand people gathered at Jerusalem City Hall in front of a screen reading, in French, “Jerusalem is Charlie.”
“This is an attack on all of us — on the Jewish people, on freedom of the media and expression,” Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said. Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said a prayer for all 17 victims.
Many participants held signs saying “Je Suis Charlie,” or “Israel is Charlie,” written in Hebrew. The city said it was hoisting 1,500 French flags throughout Jerusalem, and setting up a makeshift memorial downtown where people could post sympathy notes.
Many Israelis have identified with France, both because of Israel’s long history battling Islamic militants and because four of the victims in Paris were Jewish.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led a delegation to attend the mass rally in Paris. The Israeli leader called on French Jews to move to Israel amid a rising tide of attacks on their community. He also announced that the four Jewish victims, killed in a hostage standoff at a kosher supermarket, were expected to be buried in Israel.
Dozens of Palestinians also held a rally in the West Bank city of Ramallah, waving Palestinian and French flags and holding up banners reading “Palestine stands with France against terrorism.”
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said France and the Palestinians share the same values — liberty, equality and “saving modern civilization against the criminals who are spreading all across the Arab world, and they have attacked the heart of France.”
In Gaza, about 20 people held a candlelight vigil outside the French Cultural Center in solidarity with France and to condemn the Paris attacks.
“We are here in this vigil against terrorism,” said Raji Sourani, director of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. “The French people are friends of the Palestinian people and support them, so we are supporting them in return.”
The French Center has been closed to the public since December 2014, when unknown assailants detonated explosives targeting its exterior walls several weeks after a similar attack on the building.
Gaza’s Hamas leaders have condemned the attack on the French satirical newspaper, but have pointedly refrained from mentioning the attack on the kosher supermarket in which four Jews were killed.
On Sunday, a Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhoum, condemned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for trying to make a connection between the Palestinian militants and the Paris attackers.
“Hamas’s… resistance is a legitimate one. It is a party that protects our citizens, our lands and our holy places,” he said.
About 18,000 people gathered in front of the French Embassy next to Berlin’s iconic Brandenburg Gate in an impressive show of solidarity for the victims of the Paris attacks. Many brought flowers or pencils and held up signs reading “Je suis Charlie” or “Je suis Juif” (“I am a Jew”).
Some of the marchers wore T-shirts saying “Checkpoint Charlie Hebdo” — a reference to the Cold War-era Checkpoint Charlie in the once-divided German city.
The march came days after Germany’s new anti-Islamic Pegida movement drew 35,000 into the streets of Dresden.
Marieke Zwarter, a 24-year-old Dutch university student who studies film and lives in Berlin, said she attended the rally “to show that we should not be afraid and will not allow these terrorists to divide our societies.”
In Brussels, Belgian cartoonist Philippe Gelluck was in a crowd of 20,000, saying he was marching “in honor of my fallen friends” at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“I know the Muslim community feels wounded and humiliated by these cartoons, but they were not taking aim at Islam, but at fundamentalism,” he said.
Last Wednesday, jihadist gunmen killed 12 people in an attack on the magazine, which printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that infuriated some Muslims. A third gunman killed a policewoman and four people at the Paris kosher supermarket.
London’s famed Trafalgar Square was filled with around 2,000 people raising pencils to the sky. One person held up a giant paper heart with the message “I Am a British Muslim.” Scores of people also rallied in the university city of Oxford.
Landmarks including the Tower Bridge and the London Eye ferris wheel were lit in the red, white and blue of the French tricolor flag. The French colors were also projected onto the facade of the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square.
Many carried “Je suis Charlie” signs, and some held pens aloft as a tribute to the slain cartoonists.
Mayor Boris Johnson attended the rally and said it had been organized to express with Paris “our feelings of unity in grief and in outrage, and obviously in determination of these two great historic cities of freedom to stand together.”
London has been hit by several major terrorist attacks, the most lethal in July 2005, when four al-Qaeda-inspired bombers killed 52 people on three subway trains and a bus.
“I hope that now, in these terrible circumstances, everyone will learn to live together, as in societies like England,” Romain Abjean, a French teacher who has lived in Britain for 10 years, told AFP.
About 20,000 people marched silently through the center of Brussels, carrying banners reading “Je suis Charlie” and “United against Hatred.”
A bomb threat Sunday afternoon forced the evacuation of the offices of the Brussels newspaper Le Soir, but several hours later there was no indication of anything serious going on.
In the city of Ghent, in western Belgium, about 3,000 people took part in a silent march.
In Madrid’s Plaza del Sol, hundreds descended on the streets with red, white and blue French flags, and sang the French national anthem.
Several hundred Muslims, carrying banners reading “Not in our name,” rallied at Madrid’s Atocha square, next to the train station where, in March 2004, bombs on rush-hour trains killed 191 people in Europe’s deadliest Islamic terror attack.
Veiled women with young children joined groups of young men at the rally, holding up signs that read “I am Muslim and I am not a terrorist.”
“We don’t want killings carried out in the name of Islam,” said Driss Bouzdoudou, 30, who has lived in Spain for 14 years.
A small group of Muslim religious leaders then laid a wreath with a ribbon saying “In solidarity with France” outside the French Embassy in Madrid where the ambassador received them.
At nearby Puerta del Sol square, hundreds of mainly French protesters drew cartoons and held aloft signs saying “Je suis Charlie.”
Rallies were also held in other Spanish cities, including Barcelona and Valencia.
About a hundred people, mostly French citizens, took part in a so-called Silent March in Moscow’s Gorky Park to honor the 17 victims of the terror attacks in France and show support for freedom of expression.
“I am a French citizen who wants to tell the terrorists that we will fight against the terror and for freedom,” said France’s ambassador to Russia, Jean-Maurice Ripert, who was among the marchers.
In the evening, dozens of Muscovites came to the French Embassy to lay flowers and express their solidarity.
Elsewhere in Europe, 12,000 people rallied in Vienna, and about 3,000 people turned out in driving snow in Stockholm, while some 2,000 people marched in Dublin.
Luxembourg’s Grand Duchess Maria Teresa took the rare public step of joining some 2,000 people. In Italy, about 1,000 people gathered in Rome and the same number in Milan, while about 200 people took part in Lisbon.
Scores of demonstrators gathered in central Istanbul for a small solidarity rally with France.
Minutes after the remembrance got underway, a man, apparently critical of the gesture, tried to cut them off, shouting “Muslim blood is being shed!” The man was detained and carried away by riot police.
The silent march continued despite the interruption. About 120 people holding up pencils, pens and posters reading “We are all Charlie” walked down Istanbul’s main Istiklal Avenue toward the French consulate.
Around 200 protesters gathered in the Lebanese capital of Beirut to condemn the attacks in France, carrying signs that said “We are not afraid,” and “Je Suis Ahmed” — referring to the name of the French Muslim policeman who was killed by the attackers as he tried to defend the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
The demonstration was made more poignant for its location: a reflective pool built to commemorate a prominent Arab writer, Samir Kassir, who was assassinated 10 years ago during a spate of killings that targeted politicians and writers living in Lebanon who were critical of neighboring Syria.
Hundreds of people rallied in downtown Sydney’s Martin Place, a plaza where a shotgun-wielding Islamic State movement supporter took 18 people hostage in a cafe last month. The standoff ended 16 hours later when police stormed the cafe in a barrage of gunfire to free the captives. Two of the hostages and the gunman died.
More than 500 Australians and French nationals stood side by side holding signs bearing the words “Je suis Charlie” — French for “I am Charlie” — and “Freedom” as they marched in condemnation of the Paris attacks.
“We have to stand united,” France’s ambassador to Australia, Christophe Lecourtier, told the crowd.
Among the French now residing in Sydney who attended the rally was Felix Delhomme, 27.
“People are sending a message that we’re all together,” he said. “We want to be able to maintain our freedom of speech. We are mostly concerned about the backlash there might be against the Muslim community. They’re not more responsible for what happened than I am.”
A couple of hundred people, mostly French residents of Japan, gathered in the courtyard of the French Institute in Tokyo, holding a minute of silence and singing “La Marseillaise,” the French national anthem. They then held up pieces of paper that read “Je Suis Charlie,” in French or the Japanese translation.
The institute, which functions as a language school, was running as normal during the ceremony, with students shuffling in, as the French flag — tied with a black ribbon — hung over the balcony.
“I came here to give support to fellow artists and I believe we should stand up so these things don’t happen again,” said Alexandre Kerbam, 43, a French resident of Japan who works as a body painter and hair stylist.
On Saturday, hundreds of mostly French-speaking New Yorkers braved below-freezing temperatures and held pens aloft at a rally in Washington Square Park, where a leather-clad pole dancer gyrated in a provocative display meant to reflect the over-the-top cartoons in Charlie Hebdo.
The dancer’s live soundtrack came from a concert grand piano hauled into the Manhattan square for the occasion as she twirled under a sign that read “Je Suis Charlie.”
Olivier Souchard, a French-born New York resident who brought his family and friends, explained the fierce support for freedom of expression that drove Charlie Hebdo’s images of the Prophet Mohammad.
“What we are afraid of is less freedom for more security — it’s muzzling,” Souchard said. He said he’s been in touch with his friend Philippe Lancon, a Charlie Hebdo columnist who is recovering from surgery after being shot in the face in the attack.