Record Crowd, World Leaders Rally, Unite in Paris against Terrorism, Remember Victims

( [email protected] ) Jan 12, 2015 06:27 AM EST
Paris Rally against Terrorism
Massive crowd gather in paris. Photo: Getty Images

More than a million people, alongside 40 world leaders, marched on the streets of Paris on Sunday to express their unity against terrorism and pay respects to the victims of last week's attacks within the French capital.

The historic demonstration, which broke records according to France's Interior Ministry, attracted many people. Lori Hinnant of the Associated Press reported that there were so many demonstrators beyond the official marching route that the ministry found it impossible to count the people in the crowds.

"Today, Paris is the capital of the world," French President Francois Hollande said. "Our entire country will rise up toward something better."

According to Elena Berton and John Bacon of USA Today, more than 3.7 million people marched throughout the country, including between 1.2 million and 1.6 million in the capital. In addition to bringing British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel together, some world leaders that would normally be at odds with each other also participated in the linked arms demonstration.

"The gathering brought together leaders of nations and causes often at odds, such as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu," Berton and Bacon wrote.

In addition, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hollande visited the Grand Synagogue in Paris. According to USA Today, that site did not hold Sabbath services this weekend for the first time since World War II due to security reasons.

"Today I walked the streets of Paris with the leaders of the world to say enough terror -- the time has come to fight terror," Netanyahu said, stressing that the enemy is extremists, not Islam itself.

Paris Rally against Terrorism
French President Francois Hollande is surrounded by head of states as they attend the solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris, Jan. 11, 2015. Philippe Wojazer/Reuters

The attacks in Paris on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, a kosher market and French police have been compared to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, which could mark a turning point for the French people according to the Associated Press.

"In the weeks and months ahead, the cruelty will test how attached the French - an estimated 5 million of whom are Muslims - really are to their liberties and to each other," Hinnant wrote.

Paris Rally against Terrorism
A man holds a giant pencil as he takes part in a Hundreds of thousands of French citizens solidarity march (Marche Republicaine) in the streets of Paris on January 11, 2015. Photo: Stephane Mahe / Reuters

The Associated Press reported that the types of people involved in the "unprecedented" rallies included "children, grandparents, Muslims, Jews, Christians, workers, [and] bosses." Other rallies have been planned throughout France and major cities throughout the world, including those that have faced the wrath of extremists linked to al-Qaida, which are London, Madrid and New York.

"It's important to be here for freedom for tolerance and for all the victims," Caroline Van Ruymbeke, 32, said. "It's sad we had to get this point for people to react against intolerance racism and fascism."

According to the Associated Press, the reign of terror began Wednesday when brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi stormed the offices of Charlie Hebdo and killed 12 people. A French policewoman was killed on the outskirts of Paris on Thursday, and the Kouachi brothers were killed inside a printing plant on Friday in addition to Amedy Coluibaly, who seized hostages in a Paris kosher market and died alongside four hostages there.

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