Wednesday

22nd May 2019

'Je suis Charlie' solidarity protests continue

  • A protester showing solidarity with the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo, at a demonstration in Brussels. (Photo: Valentina Calà)

A day after a deadly attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, France is commemorating the victims in a national day of mourning on Thursday (8 January) as police continue to hunt for two gunmen.

The same afternoon after the attack on Wednesday, which killed eight journalists, two police officers, a visitor and a receptionist, thousands of protesters gathered in French and other European cities to show solidarity with the victims.

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  • Vigil for Charlie Hebdo victims in the southern French city Toulon. (Photo: yves Tennevin)

Many of those attending the spontaneous vigils chanted “Je suis Charlie”, meaning “I am Charlie”.

People also held up pens, pencils, and paper to show support for the murdered cartoonists.

According to the French newspaper Le Monde, around 35,000 protesters gathered at Place de la Republique, a central square in Paris.

“I am proud to see all these people who spontaneously gathered. The message is clear: The killers will not win”, one of the demonstrators told Le Monde.

According to Belgian media, several hundreds of protesters also gathered in Brussels.

Belgian prime minister Charles Michel personally attended a vigil at the Luxembourg square in the city's EU district.

"What happened in France is a tragedy. All democrats need to declare: We want respect for democracy and for freedom", he told Belgian TV.

On Thursday, several more protests are planned, including one in Paris at 6pm local time.

Mayors of major European cities including Amsterdam and Rotterdam, have also called on people to show solidarity.

For his part, French president Francois Hollande addressed the country in a speech on Wednesday evening in which he called the victims “our heroes”.

Holland announced that the French flag will be flown at half mast for three days and that at 12 noon on Thursday the nation will hold ia minute of silence.

Members of the European Parliament will hold their own silent minute in Brussels on Thursday at 10:45am after staff at the EU Council on Wednesday took part in a similar tribute.

EU flags outside the European Commission's headquarters in Brussels were at half mast on Thursday morning and the EU foreign service has put the events on the agenda of the next meeting of EU foreign ministers on 19 January.

Representatives of Muslim communities have have also expressed their disgust with the attackers, who chanted “Allahu Akbar”, meaning "God is great".

“Their barbarism has nothing to do with Islam”, a French imam told a French TV interviewer.

At the same time, French police are continuing their search for the two brothers suspected of carrying out the attack.

The police know their identities because ID cards were found in the getaway car.

According to French press agency AFP, a third, 18-year-old, suspect turned himself in late on Wednesday “after seeing his name circulating on social media”.

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