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article imageEmotion, and pencils, outside Paris paper's blood-stained office

By RĂ©mi Banet (AFP)     Jan 8, 2015 in World

Outside the blood-stained offices of Charlie Hebdo, crowds left tributes Thursday to those massacred -- including pencils representing the paper's slain cartoonists and their stand for free expression.

"If we go silent, they win," summed up one retired woman who had come to pay respects among a crowd of hundreds, some of them in tears.

"They" meant Muslim extremists, two of whom were suspected of carrying out the slaughter on Wednesday in the name of Islamic outrage at Charlie Hebdo's frequent caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

Traditional mementos, such as flowers, candles and photos were deposited in front of the newspaper's building in Paris's eastern 11th arrondissement, which was sealed off with red-and-white police tape and mobile metal barricades.

Pens reading "Expression  Freedom  speech"  are placed next to candles  in the city center...
Pens reading "Expression, Freedom, speech" are placed next to candles, in the city center of Rennes, western France, on January 8, 2015
Damien Meyer, AFP

"We are all Charlie", read many messages left there. "No to savagery" read others. "Charlie will live!" said some.

But the pencils were the most poignant additions, along with reprinted cartoons by those killed.

As a minute's silence was held across France on Thursday, some in the crowd outside Charlie Hebdo's offices held up press cards, revealing themselves to also be journalists.

Under sudden rain at that moment, members of the public were sombre. Some had written "Je Suis Charlie" ("I am Charlie") on their arms -- the rallying slogan on the Internet and in demonstrations around the world to express solidarity with the Paris newspaper. Other held pencils up to the sky.

As the silence ended, the crowd broke into spontaneous applause, a thunderous ovation in memory of the 12 people killed.

Tributes to the victims in the Charle Hebdo attackes spread around the world  here in front of the F...
Tributes to the victims in the Charle Hebdo attackes spread around the world, here in front of the French embassy in Ljubljana
Jure Makovec, AFP

The victims included five of Charlie Hebdo's most prominent cartoonists, among them also its editor-in-chief. Another three members of its staff and a newsroom guest were murdered, as were two policemen.

Despite the devastation, the remaining staff of the newspaper vowed on Thursday to bring out a "survivors'" issue next week, with other French media outlets lending a hand by hosting and financing them.

One million copies of the special issue will be printed -- far more than the usual 60,000, of which only half are typically sold.

- 'I am Charlie' -

Many who had come to pay respects at the publication would be among those picking up a copy.

On January 7  2015  in La Rochelle  people came out to pay tribute to the twelve people killed in th...
On January 7, 2015, in La Rochelle, people came out to pay tribute to the twelve people killed in the Charlie Hebdo attack
Xavier Leoty, AFP

"I'm an old lady. I knew the (wartime Nazi) Occupation. France has to wake up so we're still able to think freely," said Monique Valton, 81, who had laid a bouquet of flowers.

"If one can no longer say what one thinks without getting killed, this is no longer France."

A regular reader of Charlie Hebdo, Patrick Derrien, 66, said the murdered cartoonists "represented my ideas -- and France's values".

He said he was encouraged to see so many turn out in front of the newspaper's offices.

"I hope this rising up will last," he said.

A woman, Dominique Vivares, 49, vowed to come pay her respects "every day, up to Sunday".

She was not a reader of Charlie Hebdo, she admitted, "but they (the gunmen) killed people who were here to provoke smiles and thoughts".

People observe a minute's silence in front of the French Embassy in Copenhagen on January 8  20...
People observe a minute's silence in front of the French Embassy in Copenhagen on January 8, 2015
Niels Ahlmann Olesen, Scanpix Denmark/AFP

One 66-year-old woman who had come carrying coloured pencils gave her first name of Sylvie only. She said she came from one of Paris's tough immigrant suburbs -- of the sort that had hosted riots in 2005 involving many disenfranchised Muslims -- and she wanted anonymity.

"I'm here to show that I am with them" -- the surviving staff of Charlie Hebdo -- she said, half-choking with emotion.

"They need to keep on writing, drawing, making cartoons. If we fall silent, they (extremists) have won," she said, echoing the sentiment of all who were stopping by.

A young woman from a similar suburb, Samiha Diskri, explained that she had to come to pay respects.

"I didn't go to work today because it's important to be here," said the 22-year-old waitress. "If you can't express yourself, it's really serious. I also think of their families -- it's all so sad."

Shows of solidarity in front of Notre-Dame de Paris on January 8  2015
Shows of solidarity in front of Notre-Dame de Paris on January 8, 2015
Matthieu Alexandre, AFP

A kindergarten worker laying flowers, Michele Poulet, 59, agreed. "It's cruel, all the orphans left by this. I'm shocked. I'm here in a show of support for the families."

A restaurateur of the same age, Angelo Lani, eyed the gathering, the depth of feeling, and said that "they wanted to snuff out a light -- but the flame will flicker back.

"I am Charlie. And I will be one of its readers, always."

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