Foreign Minister Steinmeier, along with Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Federal Economic Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel and Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, attended the mass solidarity rally in Paris for the victims of the terror attacks in France.
In what was one of the largest rallies in the history of post-war France, over 1.5 million people gathered in Paris on Sunday (11 January) to protest against the Islamist attacks on the French satirical magazine, “Charlie Hebdo”, and a kosher supermarket.
Banners and posters with the sentences “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), “Je suis flic” (“I am a cop”) and “Je suis juif” (“I am Jewish”) were displayed all over the city in solidarity with the victims. Many of the demonstrators held up coloured pencils as a symbol of freedom of the press.
Grieving relatives and close friends of the victims of the terror attacks led the march. Over 50 heads of state and government from all over the world walked directly behind them to show their solidarity with France and the victims. Federal Chancellor Merkel and French President François Hollande walked arm in arm in the rally.
Foreign Minister Steinmeier, Economic Affairs Minister Gabriel, Interior Minister de Maizière and Vice-President of the German Bundestag Claudia Roth also took part in the march.
Steinmeier “profoundly moved” by the solidarity rally
Foreign Minister Steinmeier said he was “profoundly moved” by the solidarity rally in Paris. Hundreds of thousands of people had gathered in the French capital “to stand together as a symbol of the democratic strength and unity of French society”. Germany's Foreign Minister said:
We stand firmly and resolutely shoulder to shoulder with our French friends and neighbours. The bloody attacks were not only aimed at France. They were aimed at our democracies, our values and our open-minded societies.
Steinmeier said France and Europe were standing up resolutely for freedom and democracy and would “not allow themselves to be intimidated by terror and the terrorists”. The rally in Paris showed that “Europe’s heart is beating in unison with France’s today”. He said:
Democracy, freedom and solidarity are stronger than the boundless barbarity of terror.
Standing resolutely shoulder to shoulder with France
Before the march in honour of the victims, French President Hollande said that “Paris is the capital of the world today. All of France is standing up for its values.” Federal Chancellor Merkel said the rally showed how many people are willing “to stand up for the ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity”.
Similarly to Foreign Minister Steinmeier in an earlier statement, Merkel also underlined the importance of Franco-German friendship and said that people in Germany stood side by side with all of the people in France at this difficult time and wished them fortitude.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and many other heads of state and government from all over the world also attended the rally. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, European Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament President Martin Schulz and EU Foreign Affairs Representative Federica Mogherini were also among the demonstrators in Paris.