Tens of thousands of people gathered in cities around the world on Sunday to honor the 17 victims who died during three days of bloodshed in Paris last week, and to support freedom of expression.
The biggest event was in Paris, where over a million people, including more than 40 world leaders, streamed into the heart of the city for a rally of national unity, days after the attacks on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and a kosher grocery.
A look at the gatherings in other cities across the globe:
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 help up signs saying “Je suis Charlie” or “Je suis Juif” (I am a Jew).
Some protesters also held up cartoons published by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and played French chansons on CD players they had brought along. Many participants at the rally were French citizens, but altogether, the crowd reflected the cosmopolitan flair of Berlin — people could be heard speaking a mélange of German, English, French, Russian and many other European languages.
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.”
Her friend, 20-year-old Russian Polina Panfilova, who studies political science in Berlin, was carrying white flowers.
“It’s important that we’re all here,” she said. “We are sending a clear signal that we won’t let the terrorists win.”
Landmarks including 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, where more than 1,000 people gathered Sunday in solidarity with the French people.
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-Qaida-inspired bombers killed 52 people on three subway trains and a bus.
Hundreds of people took part in a rally on Boston Common to support France and free speech. The gathering was organized by the French Consulate and the city’s French community to coincide with the massive anti-terrorism rally in Paris.
The Boston demonstrators held a moment of silence for those killed this week in Paris.
Some held French flags, and banners readingin French, “I am Charlie” and “Boston is France.”
There were a few blue-and-yellow “Boston Strong” banners remembering the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people. Jury selection began this week in the federal trial of bombing suspect Dzhohkar Tsarnaev, who faces the death penalty.
Thousands of people participated in a silent demonstration Sunday in front of the French Embassy, holding aloft pencils, candles and placards reading: ‘’Je suis Charlie.” The demonstration was jointly organized by the French consulate and by Italy’s Muslim community.
“We condemn this terrible attack with absolute firmness and we want to express solidarity to the French people and to the French ambassador in the name of all the Muslim communities in Italy,” said Foad Aodi, president of Comai, an association of Muslims in Italy.
Elene Bompere, a French citizen living in Rome, said the attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market ‘’provokes a strong reaction.”
A small demonstration was also held in Venice’s Campo Manin, drawing many young people. Participants included the president of Venice’s Islamic community, Mohamed Amin Al Ahdab, and the head of the lagoon city’s Jewish community, Paolo Gnignati.
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 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.
With flags at half-staff over Parliament and government buildings, about 12.000 people joined Austrian political and religious leaders in downtown Vienna to pay homage to the victims of the Paris terrorist shootings.
A government statement served notice that official Austria would not be cowed by the attacks. “No one can extinguish our democracy and our freedom,” said the statement, read by two well-known Austrian actors. Others read texts by famed German writers focusing on equality and brotherhood
The crowd first formed in front of the French Embassy, then moved to the square separating the palaces serving as the offices of Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Chancellor Werner Faymann. Both were in attendance at the rally, along with government ministers, Roman Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, and the heads of Austria’s Muslim, Jewish, Orthodox Christian and other religious communities.
The crowd, many of them holding white-on-black “Je suis Charlie” signs, held a moment of silence for the attack victims. The Vienna State Opera Choir sang works by Mozart and Verdi.
Hundreds of people gathered in Madrid to express their revulsion at the Paris attacks and support for freedom of speech.
Several hundred Muslims carrying banners saying “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. 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.
Thousands of people, repeatedly chanting “Charlie,” marched through downtown Montreal to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Laurent Beltritti, a French flight attendant on a Montreal stopover, was among those who participating in the march.
“As I couldn’t attend the event in France with my friends and family, I thought it was important to come here to show my solidarity and to protest in favor of freedom and the right to express oneself without being killed by fanatics,” Beltritti said.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre also took part in the march, which ended at the French Consulate, and said there needs to be “zero-tolerance against fanaticism.”
In Quebec City, Premier Philippe Couillard attended a similar event.
“We have to reaffirm our faith in democracy and freedom,” Couillard said. “The worst thing we could do would be to retreat into fear.”
Other rallies and vigils were to be held in Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver later Sunday.
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 Beirut to condemn the attacks in France, carrying signs that said “We are not afraid,” and “Je Suis Ahmed,” — referring to the French Muslim police officer, Ahmed Merabet, who was killed as he confronted the gunmen fleeing from the offices 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.
Several hundred people gathered at a memorial ceremony at Jerusalem’s City Hall to express solidarity with France and the French Jewish community. The gathering, led by Mayor Nir Barket and the city’s chief rabbi, included many French Jewish immigrants to Israel.
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.
About 200 Palestinians and foreign supporters held a solidarity rally in the central Manara Square in the West Bank city of Ramallah. Participants held French and Palestinian flags.
Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior Palestinian official, said France and the Palestinians share the same values — liberty, equality and “saving the 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 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’... resistance is a legitimate one. It is a party that protects our citizens, our lands and our holy places,” he said.
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 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 Mohammed.
“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.
Associated Press journalists Jill Lawless in London, Kirsten Grieshaber in Berlin, Annalisa Camilli in Rome, Colleen Barry in Milan, George Jahn in Vienna, Desmond O. Butler in Istanbul, Vladimir Kondrashov in Moscow, Diaa Hadid in Beirut, Rod McGuirk in Canberra, Kaori Hitomi in Tokyo, Harold Heckle in Madrid, Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, Moshe Edri in Jerusalem, and Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report.