PARIS, January 12. /TASS/. More than 3.7 million people took part on Sunday in unity marches across France after deadly attacks in Paris killing 17 people.
None of the French cities has remained indifferent to the tragedy. Major rallies were held in Lyon, where about 300,000 people took to the streets to say ‘no’ to terrorism.
A total of 140,000 people marched in Bordeaux, and 60,000 in Marseilles. Every second citizen took part in a march in the French town of Rennes with a population of slightly more than 200,000.
A three-kilometer march started on Place de la Republique, and ended on Place de la Nation. The march in Paris was led by relatives of the journalists of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, police officers and shoppers at a kosher supermarket killed by terrorists.
French President Francois Hollande also joined the march. This was the first time in 25 years that a French president participated in a protest rally, after in 1990 the then President Francois Mitterrand joined a march against racism in response to desecration of Jewish graves at a cemetery of Carpentrasma. Marching side by side were the former French leader, Nicolas Sarkozy, government officials and former prime ministers.
Taking part were French citizens of different views and confessions, as well as representatives of practically all French parties. The National Front of Marine Le Pen was the only exception, with its leader joining a march in southern France.
World leaders also joined the Paris march. Russia was represented by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Prior to the rally, he arrived to the Elysee Palace to present condolences to the French president.
The prime ministers of Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Spain and heads of delegations of about 50 more states also arrived to the palace. Attorney General Eric Holder represented the United States, saying a security summit with participation of the US and its allies would be held in Washington on February 18.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas also accepted French president’s invitation to attend a march in support of democratic values.
French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko met briefly at the Elysee Palace to discuss the situation in Ukraine and ways to settle the crisis.
The meeting continued about 15 minutes, said sources from the official residence of the French leader.
Prior to the march, interior ministers of European nations met to discuss fight against terrorism, passing a joint declaration. The interior ministers urged tighter controls on external borders of the European Union and in the Internet space.
The interior ministers also pointed to an emergency need to establish a system of data exchange among the airports inside the EU.
In a video circulated late on Friday, a representative from Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula openly threatened France with new terror acts.
Sheikh Abu Saad al-Ansari, the head of preachers in Islamic State, said the terror attacks had been a message to all the international coalition countries. Leaders of national secret services say France has faced an unprecedented terrorist challenge and must analyze facts to draw a lesson.
Hundreds of Afghan protesters marched on Sunday in support of the Charlie Hebdo killers, the Khaama Press Afghan news agency reported. They called the gunmen “heroes” punishing for cartoons disrespectful to Islam’s prophet.
They also protested President Ashraf Ghani’s condemnation of the deadly attack.
On Wednesday morning, masked gunmen targeted an office of the Paris-based satirical Charlie Hebdo magazine, which had earlier published caricature images of the Prophet Muhammed. As a result of the shooting, 12 people were killed, including 10 staff members and two policemen. Another 11 people were wounded. This was the deadliest attack in France in half a century.
On Friday, a gunman took hostages at a kosher supermarket near the Porte de Vincennes in eastern Paris killing four of them. The gunman, later identified as Amedy Coulibaly, was killed by security forces.