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12th-Jan-2015

40 world leaders join historic march

By Agency

Dozens of world leaders have gathered in Paris to lead hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets for an unprecedented tribute to victims of this week's Islamist militant attacks.Chanting "Charlie! Charlie!" in memory of the journalists gunned down at Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine on Wednesday, the crowd was was expected to exceed a million people.British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel and Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu are among more than 40 world leaders to take part.Speaking at the march, Cameron said extremist violence would remain a threat for many years to come."We in Britain face a very similar threat, a threat of fanatical extremism," he said."It's a threat that has been with us for many years."Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi vowed that Europe would "win the challenge against terrorism", as he left the French presidents residence in Paris to join the march."We are all French today," he said. In a statement, French president Francois Hollande said: "Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side." ABC's Europe correspondent Barbara Miller describes the heart-wrenching tributes left by Parisians in honour of the victims of the terror attacks in the French capital. Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, lost their lives in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday. The three gunmen were also killed.The silent march through the centre of Paris, in honour of the victims of the worst terror attacks in the city for 50 years, was arranged shortly after the attacks. Senate president Stephen Parry will represent Australia at the march. "Paris will be the world capital of resistance against terrorism and of the defence of freedom, it will really be the world march for freedom," French foreign minister Laurent Fabius said on television on Sunday. French prime minister Manuel Valls encouraged Parisians to attend the march. "It will be an unprecedented manifestation that will be written in the history books," he said. "It must show the power and dignity of the French people, who will cry out their love of liberty and tolerance."Under a blue winter sky and bright sunshine, a few hundred people gathered early to look at wreaths for the victims on Place de la Republique, the square from which the march began. "I am here to show the terrorists they have not won - on the contrary, it is bringing people together of all religions," said Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag.The huge gathering of people follows rallies in towns and cities across the country involving hundreds of thousands of people.Many people carried signs saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie) in reference to the magazine where 12 people, including its top cartoonists, were killed on Wednesday.Unprecedented security presence to monitor Paris streetsA massive security presence is in place along the three routes the march is expected to take through the city from Place de la Republique, including both police and soldiers.There will be around 5,500 police officers on the streets, as well as snipers located on rooftops and helicopters monitoring from the sky.That is in addition to the 89,000 French gendarmes who have been placed on heightened alert over the past three days after the attacks that have shocked France.Hours before the Paris rally, German police said they were investigating whether an arson attack on the offices of a German newspaper was linked to its earlier publication of Charlie Hebdo cartoons, featuring the prophet Mohammed.French leaders have already warned that the threat may not yet be over and are appealing for calm and for unity."Everything will be done to make sure that those who want to come to this meeting can do so safely," interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.Hollande also said he would visit the Grand Synagogue of Paris after the march. Four Jews were killed in the attack on the supermarket. However, right-wing National Front leader Marine Le Pen, who is expected to receive a boost in the polls due to the attacks, said her party would shun the Paris demonstration and instead take part in regional marches.She accused the Socialist government of trying to take advantage of the event to win greater support.Turkish and French sources say a woman being hunted by French police as a suspect in the attacks had left France several days before the killings and is believed to be in Syria.Who is Hayat Boumeddiene?Hayat Boumeddiene is the mysterious 26-year-old being hunted by French security forces.French police have launched an intensive search for Hayat Boumeddiene, the 26-year-old partner of one of the attackers, describing her as "armed and dangerous".A senior Turkish official said Boumeddine left France last week and travelled to Syria via Turkey, saying she passed through Istanbul on January 2.Turkish authorities said Paris and Ankara are now cooperating in trying to trace her but that she had arrived in Istanbul without any warning from France."We think she is in Syria at the moment but we do not have any evidence about that," the Turkish official said."She is most probably not in Turkey."