Millions of people took to the streets of Paris Sunday, Jan. 11, for a unity march against terrorism. Dozens of world leaders and relatives representing victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack led the march of more than 1.6 million people. The march began with a moment of silence starting at the Place de la Republique in Paris and concluding 4.1 miles away at the Place de la Nation.
The French government reported it [the march] as the largest demonstration in French history.
Global leaders linked arms as they marched symbolizing solidarity and exhibiting a united front against recent terrorist attacks. French President François Hollande led the march, joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and other European and African leaders.
“Paris is the capital of the world today,” said Hollande.
Over 3.7 million people reportedly marched in different sites across France on Sunday. More than 2,000 police and 1,350 soldiers were deployed in the French capital to protect the participants. Thousands of ordinary citizens and travelers from various nations, beliefs and religions packed the streets of Paris to participate in the demonstrations.
Participants displayed signs and wore apparel inscribed with the words, “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie.” The phrase is being used worldwide as a symbol of support for the victims of the attacks on the French satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” and the victims of the siege on a Parisian Jewish supermarket leaving 17 people dead in just the last two weeks.
Rallies also took place in cities around the world. Thousands of people gathered to march in London, Washington and Berlin. U.S. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were noticeably absent from the march in Paris. U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley did attend the unity rally.
The purpose of the march in Paris was to support the right to freedom of expression and to show unification and strength in spite of fanaticism and terror.
“We will win. Nothing will make us renounce our determination,” Hollande said. “Long live the republic. Long live France.”