Thursday

16th Aug 2018

Millions march in France for freedom of speech

  • Several million people, including many European government leaders, participated in marches in France (Photo: Ben Ledbetter)

Between 1.2 and 1.6 million people marched in Paris Sunday to show solidarity with the victims of last week's terror attacks.

Many European government leaders were also present at the march, including German chancellor Angela Merkel, British prime minister David Cameron, Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy and Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • (Photo: elysee.fr)

The leaders came to Paris to demonstrate their support for values like freedom of speech.

“When these values are threatened we can say only one thing: we have to stand united,” said Merkel.

The march was also attended by government leaders of smaller EU nations, like Charles Michel (Belgium), Boyko Borisov (Bulgaria), Zoran Milanovic (Croatia), Bohuslav Sobotka (Czech Republic), Helle Thorning-Schmidt, (Denmark), Antonis Samaras (Greece), Viktor Orban (Hungary), Laimdota Straujuma (Latvia), Mark Rutte (The Netherlands), Pedro Passos Coelho (Portugal), Klaus Iohannis (Romania) and Alexander Stubb (Finland).

The three European presidents were there - Jean-Claude Juncker (European commission), Martin Schulz (European parliament) and Donald Tusk (European council)- as was NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg.

For at least one day, Paris was “capital of the world” French president Francois Hollande said.

The crowd, which moved through Paris at very slow pace due to the enormous amount of people, chanted “Je suis Charlie”, sang the national anthem La Marseillaise, and carried banners reading slogans like “Make fun, not war”.

Around 2,000 police officers and 1,350 soldiers were on duty in Paris on Sunday, according to France24.

According to the French government, between 1.2 and 1.6 million people marched in Paris, and around 3.7 million people in the entire country. It called the numbers “without precedent”.

Previous public manifestations of that magnitude in Paris took place for the liberation of the city in 1944, when 1 million people took to the streets, and the 1998 win of the football world championship, reported Le Monde.

Elsewhere in Europe, people also marched in solidarity. Around 20,000 marched in Brussels, the seat of the EU institutions, while there were also protests in cities like Berlin and Vienna.

Orban demonises immigrants at Paris march

A French press watchdog has highlighted the hypocrisy of some VIPs at Sunday’s march in Paris, while Hungary’s Orban used the event to call for a crackdown on immigration.

Opinion

Why are liberal democracies not winning the argument?

Unlimited freedom to say whatever one wants, the right to love and marry whomever one likes, a democratic decision-making process - we should not fool ourselves into thinking that these are universally accepted concepts.

Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate

Sweden's first big party leader TV debate ahead of September elections was marked by the burning of dozen of cars in cities across the south-west of the country.

News in Brief

  1. Salvini questions EU 'constraints' after bridge collapse
  2. Bosnian Serbs to rewrite 1995 Srebrenica genocide report
  3. Malta to allow Aquarius migrants to disembark
  4. Juncker sends condolences over Genoa bridge collapse
  5. EU pledges €500,000 more for Indonesian earthquake island
  6. EU commission in talks with states on new Aquarius migrants
  7. Man held after car crashes into UK parliament security barrier
  8. Brexit delays better readability of medicines' instructions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  2. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  3. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  4. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  5. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  6. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  8. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  12. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma

Latest News

  1. US trial sheds light on murky Cyprus-Russia links
  2. Burned cars fuel Swedish election debate
  3. EU court to hear citizens' climate case against EU
  4. How long can Bulgaria keep facing both East and West?
  5. EU commission steps up legal case against Poland
  6. Separation of powers instead of 'Spitzenkandidat' process
  7. Revealed: ExxonMobil's private dinner with Cyprus' top EU brass
  8. What Salvini teaches us about Operation Sophia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us