From New York to Beirut, thousands plan to stand in solidarity with Paris for “Je Suis Charlie” rallies scheduled over the weekend. The Je Suis Charlie rallies are being held in support of free speech and to mourn the deaths of 10 Charlie Hebdo staff members, two police officers and hostages at a Paris kosher market suspected to be killed by Islamic extremists in the last three days. Brothers Cherif and Said Kouachi, who were Frenchmen of Algerian descent and the suspects in the Charlie Hebdo attack, were killed Friday following a two-day manhunt.
Nearly 100,000 French citizens publicly condemned the attacks by gathering across the country and adopting the slogan “Je Suis Charlie,” or “I Am Charlie” in solidarity with the slain cartoonists and journalists. Some held pens in the air to demonstrate their support of free speech. The hashtag #JeSuisCharlie has also spread on Twitter and is already one of the most heavily tweeted hashtags in the social media site's history after being tweeted 3.4 million times, according to Twitter France.
Nearly 2,000 people said on Facebook that they would be attending a gathering at New York City’s Washington Square Park at 2 p.m. EST Saturday. The rally is hosted by Je Suis Charlie/New York, which has a Facebook page but does not give any further details about the event.
On the West Coast, hundreds of people said they would go to a Je Suis Charlie rally in California being held in partnership with the French Consulate in San Francisco. The event, which starts at 2 p.m. local time Sunday, includes a minute of silence “to remember the journalists, the artists, the cops, the hostages and the people that lost their lives this week in France,” according to a Facebook page for the gathering. Supporters were urged to bring pens, flags and candles to “show the world how close we are to our friends in France.”
Another 1,100 Facebook users said they would gather in Samir Kassir Square in downtown Beirut for three hours, starting at 4 p.m. local time Sunday. That Je Suis Charlie rally is being organized by Ayman Mhanna, executive director of the Beirut-based Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom.
In Scotland, a Je Suis Charlie rally is scheduled for 3 p.m. Sunday local time on the steps of the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow, according to a Twitter account run by French students at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow.
Charlie Hebdo was believed to be targeted by the Kouachi brothers because the satirical French magazine published cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad and Muslim figures that some characterized as being insulting to Islam. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, based in Yemen, allegedly directed the attack, according to First Look Media.