By: Matthias Baudinet
Since its birth, the 21st century has been very troubling. It seems that every morning when we turn the tv on and put on the news we learn about another bombing somewhere, murders, kidnappings, suicides, and other unfortunate events. On January 7th, 2015, at around 11:30am the famous satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo was attacked by radical Islamic terrorists. These terrorists killed a total of 12 people that included magazine editors, cartoonists, and police officers. The two terrorist brothers also wounded another 12 people right in the heart of Paris. The terrorists attacked freedom of speech and freedom of expression. These two fundamental pillars of Western civilization are not embraced by many radical, extremist groups all over the world.
On the 9th of January 2015, another radical Islamic terrorist took hostages at a Paris Kosher supermarket. This separate event was conducted by a Muslim terrorist that supported and encouraged the Charlie Hebdo shooting by stating that “Charlie Hebdo insulted our sacred prophet and religion.” The hostage-taker killed 4 people until he himself was killed while 9 people were severely injured. These two terrorist acts where supported and funded by Al Qaeda. Though they were French citizens, they belonged to one of many underground terrorist cells in Europe. These radicalized Muslims tried to scare the Western world by staging unsuccessful attacks on the freedoms and liberties that French people (and other Western nationalities) enjoy. Instead of giving into fear, millions of French people all throughout France (and around the world) gathered and marched in Republican marches that stood for liberty and unity in these troubled times.
On the 10th and 11th of January 2015, millions of people all across France gathered in the center of many French cities to march in “Republican marches” in response to the multiple terrorist attacks that had occurred only a few days before. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, and people of many other faiths came together in unity against terrorism. French Jews with symbolic signs that stated “I am Charlie, I am Muslim, I am French” showed how despite fundamental religious differences, French people saw each other as one. Muslims and Christians carried similar signs in many of the Republican marches all over France.
Leaders from over 40 countries attended the main Republican march in Paris at the famous Place de la République. Thousands of French citizens around the world showed support for the marches that stood for freedom of speech and the fight against terrorism by creating their own smaller marches. In total, about 444,000 people marched outside of France. The biggest foreign rallies took place in Montreal, Brussels, Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Vienna, New York City, Moscow, Stockholm, Madrid, and Dublin.
In France, over 4.4 million people attended one of many Republican marches. This was the largest public rally in French history since the French Revolution of 1789. Bigger than when France celebrated her victory in World War I, or when France celebrated her liberation from the Nazis in 1944. Stores were closed, all government officials throughout France attended the rallies and millions of French people took off work to be part of the largest unity march in French history. Paris accounted for more than half of the 4.4 million who attended the Republican marches. Over 2 million French citizens in Paris alone gathered for one of the biggest marches in world history.
The French people came together in one of the most terrible events in France in the 21st century. They honored the lives and memories of all those who perished in the unfortunate attacks and shootings, and showed the world that the French would continue to be a beacon of free speech and liberty in the world, and continue to fight against all those who would seek to destroy that. Vive la France!