World Leaders March in Paris Alongside Millions in Mourning of the Victims & in Support of Free Speech, But Many Criticize Their Hypocrisy at Home
Following last week's seemingly-unabated terror attacks in the country, leaders from a number of countries met in in the French capital on Sunday for security talks, after which the over 50 world leaders joined a "unity march" in Paris, alongside a crowd of an expected millions of people demonstrating in solidarity with victims of the attacks and in support of free speech.
Thousands of French police and troops were deployed to amplify security at the demonstration. The French Interior Minster said 2,200 security personnel will be stationed along the route of the march, which spread out almost two miles on the east of Paris. He also said that snipers peppered the rooftops along the way, as CNN reported French officials saying "exceptional measures" will be taken to protect the massive crowd expected to gather.
Beginning shortly after 3 p.m. local time, march was led by political leaders and victims of the families. The attendees included French President Francoise Hollande, British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian and Spanish Prime Ministers, Matteo Renzi and Mariano Rajoy, as well as Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also made an appearance, as did Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The U.S. was represented by Attorney General Eric Holder, who earlier on Sunday met with EU foreign ministers to discuss preventative measures for future attacks and the halting of radicalization that led Europeans to flock to Syria and Iraq under jihadist influence.
But some also took to Twitter to criticize their presence, citing the lack of freedom of speech in these leaders' own countries.
Daniel Wickham, a student at London School of Economics and co-president of the university's Middle East Society, detailed in a series of tweets what countries whose leaders attended the march have done in the name of "free speech."
The march is a response to the Charlie Hebdo shooting, in which 12 journalists were killed for depicting Prophet Muhammad. The massacre was the beginning of a three-day terror siege in which a manhunt, shootouts and two hostage situations occurred in and around Paris, as terror sleeper cells were activated in the country for 24 hours, according to law enforcement officials.