Paris (AsiaNews / Agencies) - French President François Hollande is preparing to chair a meeting with his ministers to discuss national security fresh from yesterday's march in Paris held as a sign of unity and solidarity with the victims of 17 terrorist attacks last week. Nearly 3.7 million people poured into the capital to attend the event, which authorities say was "the largest gathering" in the history of France.
56 world leaders attended the march along with citizens of all nationalities and religions. The leaders included the British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, King Abdullah of Jordan, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Benjamin Netanyahu, together with the leaders of Spain, Italy, the European Union, Turkey and Tunisia. Jane Hartley, US Ambassador to France, represented the United States. However, the heads of state of the Arab nations were notably absent, with the king of Morocco announcing that he "could not take part" because Muhammad cartoons were being displayed.
"I felt it
was important to come," says Naima
Zouali, a Moroccan of 60 who lives in
London. Marching with a sign saying "Je suis
Marocaine, Je suis
Charlie", she adds: "For me, these people do not represent Islam."
700 thousand other people took part in similar demonstrations in several French cities, including Toulouse, Lyon, Rennes, Nice and Marseille.
The Paris march started from Place de la Republique and ended at Place de la Nation, a few meters from the kosher supermarket where one of the attacks took place on January 9. The attacks began January 7, when the Kouachi brothers raided the editorial staff of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people, including eight journalists and two policemen.
The next day, a man killed a police
officer and wounded a bystander.
He was identified as Amedy Coubaly. On January 9, the
two brothers barricaded themselves in an industrial warehouse in Dammartin-en-Goele, 35 km from Paris. Meanwhile, Coubaly
took the customers of a kosher supermarket hostage, killing four. In two simultaneous
raids, police killed both the Kouachi
brothers and their accomplice.
Yesterday morning, a few hours before the start of the march, a video by Coubaly, perhaps recorded before the attacks, was posted online. In it, the man claims to work with Kouachi brothers: "We split into two teams, to increase the impact of our actions." The French police are on the trail of a fourth accomplice, Hayat Boumeddiene, Coubaly's girlfriend. However, the Turkish authorities claim she had already fled to Syria, well before the attacks.