Unity march spreads hope after Charlie Hebdo attacks

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An early morning attack from Al-Qaeda broke out in a military-style, methodical killing of 12 people at the office of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical newspaper that caricatured the Prophet Muhammad in Paris, France, Jan. 7.

Eight journalists, two police officers, a maintenance worker and a visitor were killed, French prosecutor Francois Molins said. Eleven people were wounded, four with critical conditions as reported in csmonitor.com.

Despite the tragedy that took place, many people took a stand and fought for their rights. Later in the day of the attack, thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, waving pens and papers reading “Je suis Charlie” or “I am Charlie.”

Three days later on Jan. 11, a march of unity to memorialize the attack led by relatives of the victims, began at the Place de la Republique and concluded in the Place de la Nation. More than 1.5 million people marched in the capital in a show of unity. The French government said the rally was the largest demonstration in French history.

Many political and world leaders set aside their differences to participate in the unity march. No speeches were given by the world and political leaders, but their presence conveyed the unity between the nations that were represented. French President Francois Hollande said this demonstration turned the city into “the capital of the world.”

Social media played an enormous role in spreading unity and hope all around the world. Live feed of those that participated in the rally was broadcast on Snapchat, representing France and the fight against silence. Instagram photos from all over the world spread the “Je suis Charlie”  logo as well as cartoons depicting the fight against terrorists attempting to take away the right to speak.

The rallies, memorials, and the social media presence united the world. The Charlie Hebdo tragedy shed light that silence is not something that can be forced. It revealed a universal theme that as long as there is hope and unity from people, there can be no fear that silence can be taken.

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