No living in fear: 'I Am Charlie' rallies back free speech

London, Jan 8: From Berlin to Bangkok, tens of thousands took a stand today against living in fear, as rallies defended the freedom of expression and honored the victims of a Paris newspaper attack. Viewing the Paris attack as a cold-blooded assault on democracy, people from all walks of life -- journalists and police officers, politicians and students -- turned out in cities around the world, holding up pens and joining hands.

European capitals including Madrid, London and Brussels and cities in the US saw large demonstrations and candlelit vigils late yesterday, and more rallies were held today from Athens to Sarajevo.

United Kingdom

Smaller gatherings took place even further afield, from Delhi in India to the Tunisian capital of Tunis. Many held placards proclaiming "Je Suis Charlie" "I am Charlie" a slogan that went viral on social media within hours of yesterday's terror attack on the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left 12 people dead.

Germany's biggest-selling daily, Bild, filled the top half of its front page with the headline "Cowardly Murderers!" and printed a black back page with the words "Je suis Charlie." "The only thing we can do against this is to live fearlessly," editor-in-chief Kai Diekmann said in an editorial.

"Our colleagues in Paris have paid the ultimate price for freedom. We bow before them." Peter Neumann, a security expert at King's College London, said the attack has won widespread attention on the Internet because it reflects an assault on values -- unlike other recent terror incidents, such as those at a cafe in Sydney or outside parliament in Ottawa, which were seen as attacks directed at local targets. Many people are stepping forward to defend their principles because they see their basic rights threatened.

Across Britain, police forces paused for two minutes at 10:30 am -- 24 hours after the shootings -- to remember the 12 victims in Paris, who included two French police officers. "Every single person, other than the people manning the emergency lines, came out to show their support," said Mike Barton, Chief Constable at Durham Police. 


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