Paris is on high alert, as officials organize a massive rally in support of those killed in this week’s terrorist attacks and the Charlie Hebdo offices. As many as a million supporters are expected to fill the streets of Paris, brandishing their rallying cry “Je Suis Charlie.”
France 24 is reporting as many as 700,000 people marched in cities across France, leading organizers to expect a massive turnout for today’s rally in Paris. Over 2,000 police officers are being deployed in the city, with even more guarding areas such as schools, synagogues, and mosques. A Parisian police source stated forces will be “doubled, even tripled” over normal to account for the increased threat.
The rally is expected to draw leaders from around the world, including French President Francois Hollande and leaders from Britain, Germany, and NATO. Religious leaders and politicians are also expected to attend.
French Prime Minister Manuel Valls released a statement, saying France must show “the power, the dignity of the French people.”
“Journalists were killed because they defended freedom. Policemen were killed because they were protecting you. Jews were killed because they were Jewish. The indignation must be absolute and total not for three days only, but permanently.”
Meanwhile, support for the victims continues to grow across the globe. “Je Suis Charlie” rallies have been held across Europe and the United States. NBC New York reported on one such rally held in the big apple on Saturday.
Hundreds of supporters filled New York’s Washington Square Park, holding pens aloft and carrying signs reading “Je suis Charlie,” French for “I am Charlie.”
French born New Yorker Olivier Souchard attended the rally with family and friends and expressed support for Charlie Hebdo.
“What we are afraid of is less freedom for more security, it’s muzzling. Satirical cartoons are essential to us; they’re essential to France. We were raised with great cartoons, but you Americans don’t like to hurt people with cartoons _ but you should hurt people!”
And in yet another statement of support, an NBA player wore a “Je suis Charlie” shirt during warmups on Friday. Washington Warriors forward Kevin Seraphin was born in French Guiana, and has played for France’s national squad.
“Kind of insane what’s going on right now ’cause we’ve never faced this type of thing. For sure, right now, it’s a hard time for us.”
Chicago Bulls forward expressed support for Seraphin. Noah’s father, Yannik Noah, was a champion tennis player from France.
Noah told reporters he was happy Seraphin expressed his support in such a way, saying, “I’m happy he did that. France is going through some tough times right now, and he honored the people.”
[Photo courtesy of Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images]