1,000 at Berlin rally for Charlie Hebdo victims
More than 1,000 people made it to a spontaneous rally outside the French Embassy in Berlin on Wednesday night to show support for their home country and its free press following the terror attack on satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.
The vast majority were French, many former residents of Paris or with relatives in the French capital.
The rally, at Pariser Platz, site of the Brandenburg Gate, was called at the last-minute for 6pm.
Many carried signs bearing the legend “Je suis Charlie” [I am Charlie], which has become the slogan of those expressing their support.
While there were brief outbreaks of chanting “Long live freedom of the press” and “long live caricature”, the majority of the evening passed off quietly as demonstrators held candles and talked amongst themselves.
The Local was at the scene, and spoke with Joël Espi, a Swiss freelance journalist who organized the demonstration.
“I know a cartoonist who's worked at Charlie Hebdo and I've worked for satirical newspapers”, he said, saying that he felt moved by the attack to organize a show of solidarity and got in touch with other journalists.
The Facebook event Espi created to manage the demonstration quickly snowballed to attract hundreds of responses.
He added that he was glad that French President Francois Hollande had reacted so quickly by attending the scene of the attack, and that he and other leaders had insisted immediately that the freedom of the press should not be infringed.
Embassy workers could be seen at the windows of the building watching the demonstration and taking photos on their phone, while Ambassador Philippe Etienne joined the crowd and talked with participants.
Berlin politicians, including mayor Michael Müller, expressed their sympathy with France throughout the day, while the President of the city assembly Ralf Wieland joined the crowd on the square to show his support.