In the wake of the terror attacks that shook France — and the world — this week, perhaps one silver lining is the show of unity by French people and the international displays of solidarity seen around the world.
The worst terrorist attack on France in decades, which resulted in the deaths of at least 17 people, triggered rallies in New York, Washington D.C., London, Berlin, Madrid, Geneva, Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, and many other cities. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, was spotted in attendance at a New York unity rally on Saturday. #JeSuisCharlie, meaning “I am Charlie,” swiftly went viral on Twitter around the world and became a rallying cry in support of free speech and the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.
In France, rallies were held around the nation all week long and over the weekend, with thousands attending and holding pens as a symbol of freedom of speech, as well as “Je suis Charlie” signs, candles, and photos of the victims. Many defiantly held signs proclaiming “Not afraid,” in response to the terrorists who perpetrated the attacks.
On Sunday, demonstrators will be joined by powerful world leaders, including U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Spanish Prime Minister Mariana Rajoy, Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stuff, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, and U.S. Ambassador to France Jane Hartley, among others. They will be gathering in Paris to attend both an international ministerial meeting and a unity rally.
More than one million people are reportedly expected to attend the rally to express support for France and freedom of expression.
The Unity Rally will begin at 9 a.m. ET in Place de Republique in Paris and will be led by French President Francois Hollande. In a press conference on Saturday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said that French authorities will have heightened security in place on Sunday in order to protect the safety of the marchers. The security plan includes deploying soldiers, police officers, roof snipers, and motorbike patrols — including 2,000 policemen and 1,350 army personnel.
Leaders will also gather on Sunday at an international ministerial meeting being convened by Cazeneuve. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will travel to Paris to attend the meeting, as will ministers from several other nations. According to a statement from the Department of Justice, topics covered in the meeting will include discussions on addressing terrorist threats, foreign fighters, and countering violent extremism.