At least 44 world leaders are making an appearance with hundreds of thousands of mourners marching through Paris Sunday to pay tribute to the 10 murdered Charlie Hebdo journalists and the two police officers who were killed defending them Wednesday.
Western, Jewish and Arab leaders linked arms to show solidarity in their condemnation of radical Islam, including Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, Germany’s Angela Merkl, France’s Francois Hollande and Great Britain’s David Cameron, according to Reuters via The Washington Free Beacon.
Noticeably missing is President Barack Obama, although he had reportedly sent Attorney General Eric Holder in his place.
With the week’s events firmly in their minds, the marchers were also joined by approximately 2,200 police officers and military personnel, who are patrolling the streets and maintaining rooftop vigils with sniper rifles, all on the lookout for would-be attackers.
The silent march – which may prove the largest seen in modern times through Paris – reflected shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security, and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks.
“Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side,” said Hollande in a statement.
The 12 who were murder Wednesday were just the beginning of the carnage left by the terrorists. According to Reuters:
Paris – reflected shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security, and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks.
Overnight, an illuminated sign on the Arc de Triomphe read: “Paris est Charlie” (“Paris is Charlie”).
The mourners, young and old alike, were also united in their resolve to refuse to succumb to demands made by Islamic terrorists.
“We’re not going to let a little gang of hoodlums run our lives,” said Fanny Appelbaum, 75, who said she lost two sisters and a brother in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. “Today, we are all one.”
Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag, agreed: “I am here to show the terrorists they have not won – it is bringing people together of all religions.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italy Prime Minister Matteo Renzi were among 44 foreign leaders marching with Hollande. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu – who earlier encouraged French Jews to emigrate to Israel – and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were also present.
Immediately to Hollande’s left, walked Merkel and to his right Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. France has provided troops to help fight Islamist rebels there.
Obama’s absence at the march has already prompted jokes that he’s busy golfing, or that he doesn’t believe in Islamic terrorism.
Nonetheless, it’s good that he at least sent a representative. It would have been better, however, had he chosen someone other than Holder. There’s something a bit off-putting about sending your lawyer in your place.
Watch this live video of the proceedings via Agence France-Presse.