BRUSSELS: European leaders will make an extraordinary show of support for France by joining a mass rally in Paris this weekend as a wave of global support continued following the bloody end to the Charlie Hebdo attacks’ sieges.
Global condemnation poured in as French police killed the Islamist gunmen, with bitter foes Israel and Iran both condemning the slaughter at the satirical newspaper as “terrorism” and even North Korea and Cuba sending condolences.
A wave of solidarity continued to sweep around the globe in the wake of the attacks, with people staging new vigils in several cities to declare “Je suis Charlie” in a show of support for free speech.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Spanish Prime Minister Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, whose countries have suffered major terror attacks in the past decade, were among the first to say they would attend a huge rally in Paris on Sunday.
Cameron said he would be “celebrating the values behind Charlie Hebdo”.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said they would also come.
European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker said they would attend the Paris rally as well, accompanied by the EU’s foreign affairs supremo Federica Mogherini.
Britain’s Prince Harry meanwhile signed a book of condolence in London.French police on Friday stormed the site north of Paris where the two brothers who attacked Charlie Hebdo had taken a hostage, killing both. Heavily armed police also raided a kosher supermarket where an alleged associate of the brothers had taken several hostages, killing the gunman. Four other people also died there.
Fresh condemnation of the attacks came from around the world — often from opposing sides of ideological and strategic divides.
Israel expressed concern over what it called a “terror offensive” in France.
“The terrorist offensive taking place over the past three days is not only against the French people or France’s Jews but against the entire free world”, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.North Korea, which has been accused of hacking Sony Pictures over a controversial movie about leader Kim Jong-Un, also condemned the attacks on Charlie Hebdo.
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong sent a message of condolence in which he “reaffirmed the principled stand of the DPRK to oppose all sorts of terrorism,” the state news agency KCNA said.
Cuba, which has also been accused by rights groups of suppressing freedom of speech, similarly paid respect.
“President Raul Castro sent a message of condolence to president Hollande for the terrorist attack,” a foreign ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The rallies that have drawn thousands of people together in cities around the world in support of Charlie Hebdo continued too.
In Istanbul dozens of Turkish journalists gathered to call for journalistic freedom.
Published in Dawn, January 10th, 2015