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article imageCharlie Hebdo: Vigils worldwide show France not alone in grief

By Robert Myles     Jan 8, 2015 in World
Paris - Rallies and vigils took place in cities and towns across France Wednesday evening as the full horror of the earlier shootings at the Paris offices of French satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, became clear.
Around noon, local time, Wednesday, in what looked like a well-planned attack, three gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs entered the newspapers offices opening fire on journalists and police on security detail.
Some reports said the assailants had specifically identified their journalist and cartoonist targets by name before shooting them dead. After the murders, the attackers made off in a waiting car. That one of the attackers seemed to find the time to pick up something dropped on the street before entering the vehicle lends credence to the theory that the terrorists were well-organized.
In a country that values freedom of expression, Wednesday’s attack, that left a total of 12 dead, was without precedent in France. The atrocity was clearly targeted at journalists and cartoonists, 10 of whom died in the shootings, along with two police officers who were providing security at the newspaper’s offices.
Wednesday evening, French citizens rose as one attending silent vigils across the country in protest at the earlier slaughter and in memory of the victims.
The largest rally took place in Paris where an estimated 35,000 assembled at Place de la Republique to pay tribute to the victims. Their weapon of choice was pens, in tribute to the 10 journalists and cartoonists who made the ultimate sacrifice for freedom of speech. Charlie Hebdo’s complement of writers and illustrators had never been afraid to speak out, despite a number of threats against the newspaper which has in the past often taken religions to task, whether Islam, Christianity or Judaism.
In France’s second city, Marseille, the story was the same with those paying tribute holding posters displaying what has become the protests’ by-line “Je Suis Charlie” and singing the French national anthem La Marseillaise.
Vigils also took place in smaller provincial cities from Montpellier in the south to Angers in the Loire valley where the central square, Place du Ralliement, was filled with hundreds of citizens paying silent tribute to those who’d lost their lives earlier.
Citizens of Angers (Angevins) assemble in the city s Place du Ralliement in solidarity with the vict...
Citizens of Angers (Angevins) assemble in the city's Place du Ralliement in solidarity with the victims of Wednesday's terrorist attack in Paris that left 12 dead.
Angers Info via Facebook
A silent vigil takes place in Tours  central France in memory of the victims of Wednesday s terror a...
A silent vigil takes place in Tours, central France in memory of the victims of Wednesday's terror attack in Paris.
Je Suis Charlie open source
France was not alone in its grief. Across the world, vigils were held in many other cities including London, Washington D.C., Buenos Aires, Vienna, Madrid, Berlin and Brussels.
As French police continue the manhunt for the attackers, later releasing photographs of two individuals, Cherif Kouachi, 32, and his 34-year-old brother Said, wanted in connection with yesterday’s massacre, the list of towns and cities where further vigils are planned seems set to grow.
The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie gained traction, Wednesday, as events unfolded and swiftly became a symbol of solidarity, not just among journalists but with anyone appalled by the massacre.
Such has been the universal revulsion at Wednesday’s murders that developers at French daily, Le Monde, have assembled a map giving details of further vigils and rallies planned, not just in France, but around the world. A “Je Suis Charlie” Facebook page is now open and those wishing to organize vigils are invited to leave details there.
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