Many of the protesters, meeting in Paris, Madrid and Berlin, have adopted the slogan "Je Suis Charlie" — I am Charlie — holding up banners and placards printed with the words. Others were seen carrying enlarged versions of the some of the newspaper’s anti-Islamist cartoons.
In London, hundreds of people filled Trafalgar Square at a silent vigil for those killed when masked gunmen stormed the newspaper’s headquarters. Many held pens, pencils and notebooks in the air to show their support for the journalists, cartoonists and police officers who lost their lives.
The gatherings were held as French President Francoise Hollande declared tomorrow a day of national mourning tomorrow in respect for the victims of this morning’s attack.
And in a show of support for the European neighbours, Germans gathered outside the French embassies in Berlin and Madrid tonight — signs illuminated by candlelight.
The crowds were gathered in support of 12 people — including four of France’s most revered cartoonists — who were executed by masked attackers, brandishing Kalashnikovs, who burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name.
Witnesses said the suspected Al Qaeda gunmen were heard to shout ‘the Prophet has been avenged’ and "Allahu akbar!" — Arabic for "God is great" — as they stalked the building.
They headed straight for the paper’s editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard. The security had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed.
A year later, Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: "I would rather die standing than live kneeling."
-Excerpted from Atlas Shrugged. Read the whole article here (with lots of images from the demonstrations).
In 2011, the publication ran a cartoon of Mohammad on its cover which read "100 lashes if you don't die laughing" and its offices were subsequently firebombed.
In 2012, the publication continued to portray Mohammad in its cartoons, this time naked. This stoked anger among France's 4.7 million-strong Muslim community.
In defence of the cartoons, Charbonnier said the following to Al Jazeera in an interview:
"I have been in this newspaper for 20 years. It has been 20 years that we have been provocative, it just so happens that every time we deal with radical Islam we have a problem and we get indignant violent reactions.
"But what surprises me is the reaction of French politicians. We are a country in the rule of law, we respect the French law. Our only limit is French law. It is what we have to obey. We haven't infringed the French law, we have the right to use our freedom, as we understand it."
-Excerpted from International Business Times. Read the rest here: Charlie Hebdo Paris shooting: Al-Qaeda hit list named cartoonist Stephane Charbonnier.