We are all Charlie.
Tens of thousands of people, many holding signs saying "Je suis Charlie," rallied across France and around the world to show support and express grief after the killing of at least 12 people at the Paris headquarters of satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo today.
Crowds gathered in French cities including Paris, Toulouse, Lyon, Lille and Marseille, as well as in Trafalgar Square in London, at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate and elsewhere.
At the Place de la Republique in central Paris, where more than 10,000 assembled, placards with the words that mean "I am Charlie" were raised. Others waved their smartphones with an image of a pen on it.
Some held a pen or a candle, or copies of Charlie Hebdo magazine; some chanted "All Together With Charlie." With flashlights, marchers spelled out "NOT AFRAID" in capital letters. As many as 50,000 turned out across France, police said.
"This can help rebirth a spirit of unity," said Olivier Migda, 38, chief financial officer of Gender, a fashion company. "Rather than seeking refuge in nationalism, let’s hope that this will create cohesion" behind the country’s values of respect for others.
Hours earlier, attackers killed at least 12 reporters and police officers at the headquarters of the magazine, whose portrayals of the Prophet Muhammad made it a target. Eight journalists, two police officers, a guest and a maintenance man were killed, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said.
Hundreds of people, many of them French, descended on New York’s Union Square at 7 p.m. local time. They held handmade "Je Suis Charlie" signs or displayed the message on their phones. Some raised pens, while others held the magazine’s covers.
"None of us could work today after what happened, we were constantly checking the news," said Anthony De Jaegere, a 26-year-old sales manager who is originally from France and moved to the city about a year ago.
Those attending the rally were mostly quiet, or speaking to one another in French, until they broke out singing the French national anthem.
"Charlie was a symbol of French expression," said Caroline Meziere, 36, who works in finance and grew up in France. "It’s shocking that they killed an entire newspaper over sense of humor."
At a ceremony to swear in 891 recruits about to enter the city’s new Police Academy, Mayor Bill de Blasio called for a moment of silence to honor the victims.
"This was an attack on those who speak freely; it was an attack on the news media: it was an attack on freedom of expression," he said. "It was an attack on the values we hold dear and that you’re preparing to defend."
More than 623,000 Twitter messages using the hashtags #JeSuisCharlie were published today, among the most used hashtags in the world. The words also were on the home page of the Charlie Hebdo website. The phrase echoed the headline in Le Monde newspaper after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks: "We are all Americans."
Several hundred people, mainly French, gathered in Trafalgar Square. Flowers, Charlie signs, pens, pencils and a candle were laid out on the ground in a symbol of defiance. One person held a sign with the words, "If God exists he does not kill for a drawing." A violinist playing a melancholic melody was heard in the background.
"I’m just sad, I’m just shocked, I just don’t understand," said Marie Humbert, a 25-year-old graphic designer from Paris who held a Charlie placard. "I never expected to feel as French as I am now."
"When journalists are in the city, in their office and are targeted, how can you accept this?" said Alain Duciel, a trader, as a light drizzle began to fall.
In Berlin, more than 500 people, most of them French expatriates, stood in front of the French Embassy next to the iconic Brandenburg Gate. Many stepped forward to lay flowers and lighted candles next to the embassy’s main entrance. A black sign left there read the Charlie message in bold white letters. A lone saxophonist played mournful tunes from the other side of the square.
Lisa Chalvet, who arrived in Berlin nine months ago to work at the embassy, stood just a few steps away. "It’s good to have a place to mourn together," Chalvet said.
Following a meeting with French President Francois Hollande at the Elysee Palace, the country’s leading religious leaders spoke out against the attack.
"We feel today the need to do all that is possible within our communities or religious families to mobilize the believers to feel a sense of living together as well as prevention because God is our witness that we are seeing a degradation of the situation in our society," said Dalil Boubakeur, rector of the Paris Mosque and head of the French Council of Muslim Faith.
Soccer teams playing in Lille tonight said they would observe a minute of silence and wear a black armband. Hollande called for one day of mourning and for national flags to fly at half-staff for three days.
"We are all French," Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi said after meeting with the French Ambassador in Rome.
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