Defiant France Holds Biggest Rally in Its History

'Unprecedented' demonstration held in reaction to Charlie Hebdo attack
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 11, 2015 8:43 AM CST
Updated Jan 11, 2015 12:07 PM CST
Defiant Paris Rallies
Benjamin Netanyahu, Nicolas Sarkozy, Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, Francois Hollande, Angela Merkel, Mahmoud Abbas, Italian PM Matteo Renzi march, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

Leaders from across the globe descended on Paris today to stand by the side of French President Francois Hollande, as hordes of his countrymen crowded into the capital's iconic Republique Square to defiantly proclaim "Je Suis Charlie" in a rally to honor the 17 killed over the course of three horrifying days this week. "Paris is the capital of the world today," proclaimed Hollande before the start of the march, as per Sky News. "The whole country will stand up." He was joined by some 40 leaders ranging from David Cameron and Angela Merkel to Benjamin Netanyahu and Mahmoud Abbas; the United States sent outgoing AG Eric Holder.

France's Interior Ministry says it's the biggest such demonstration in the nation's history, calling it "unprecedented" even in a nation known for its demonstrating; attendance estimates vary widely, with some French media putting the number at 3 million demonstrators. The Interior Ministry says the event was so heavily attended that it's impossible to tell. Similar rallies were planned in London, Madrid, and New York—which the AP notes have all been attacked by extremists linked to al-Qaeda—as well as Cairo, Sydney, Stockholm, Tokyo. The rally comes as French prosecutors today revealed that one of the gunmen had also been linked to the shooting of a female jogger; video also surfaced of Amedy Coulibaly pledging his allegiance to ISIS. The BBC has a live blog of the Paris rally here. (Read more Charlie Hebdo stories.)

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