Demonstrators around the world took to the streets Wednesday to support free speech and show their solidarity with the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. In the wake of the terrorist attack that left 12 people dead, including the magazine’s editor and several staffers, thousands of Parisians flooded the Place de la Republique, with demonstrators scaling the base of the massive monument that sits at the square’s center.
“We are Charlie,” they chanted. “Freedom of speech.”
Eileen Horowitz Bastianelli, a longtime Paris resident who attended the demonstrations, told International Business Times the mood was peaceful, “not morose at all,” with many attendees still in shock over the events but “ready to fight” for freedom of speech.
“I felt the need to be there and was really glad to have taken part,” she said. “I fear this is the beginning of something much bigger.”
Vigils and rallies were held in dozens of cities throughout Europe, with others planned for later on Wednesday in North and South America.
In London, demonstrators gathered at Trafalgar Square as British Prime Minister David Cameron discussed the attack with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Downing Street.
â€” The Independent (@Independent) January 7, 2015
It was a similar scene in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, at the European Parliament in Brussels and outside the French Embassy in Rome.
Many of those protesting the attacks flung their pens in the air, a demonstration of nonviolence in the face of abject brutality. The magazine is believed to have been targeted for its history of publishing cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
On the other side of the Atlantic, rallies are planned for a number of cities, including Montreal, Toronto, New York, Washington and San Francisco.
A Facebook event for a demonstration in Manhattan’s Union Square had more than 1,500 people signed up to attend as of Wednesday afternoon. Demonstrators there are to meet at 7 p.m. EST. Another rally is planned at the French consulate in San Francisco, where more than 700 people have signed up to attend.
The French newspaper Le Monde is using a Google map to keep track of the worldwide demonstrations.