President Barack Obama and U.S. lawmakers planned to honor victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris with yellow pencils and other tributes Tuesday during the annual State of the Union address. Lawmakers said ahead of the speech the pencils symbolized free speech after the attack against the French satirical magazine on Jan. 7 by two Islamic militant gunmen.
"Rather than divide and intimidate us, these brazen and barbaric attacks have united the international community and prompted a global response in defense of the freedom of expression," a spokesman for U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin said in a press release Tuesday. The pencils won’t be sharpened because of security concerns, reported Yahoo News.
The Charlie Hebdo attack left 12 dead, including two police officers and 10 staff members. Obama faced international criticism earlier this month for skipping a historic demonstration in Paris attended by dozens of world leaders in honor of the victims.
The White House has not released to the public an advance copy of Obama's speech, but it is expected he will mention the Paris terrorist attacks. Terrorists targeted the French magazine because of its offensive cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.
The White House planned to live stream the SOTU address with graphics, data and charts explaining Obama's policies for the first time. Obama was expected to discuss his free community college plan, continued efforts to establish diplomatic ties with Cuba and how immigration helps the nation, among other things.