World leaders march in solidarity with France

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga (second from right) marched in Paris along with numerous other world leaders, including (from left to right) former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keta, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and (far right) Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko. Keystone

Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga joined the leaders of several dozen countries on Sunday in a march attended by an estimated 1 million people in Paris. Participants showed solidarity for the victims of an attack on the satirical French magazine Charlie Hebdo earlier in the week.

This content was published on January 11, 2015 - 16:45 and agencies

It is necessary to react to the attack by defending our basic rights, said Sommaruga on Sunday in an interview in the  weekly newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

Basic rights such as the right to freedom of expression “cannot be taken for granted”, she said. “Without them there is no democracy and no free society.”

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s attack by Islamic terrorists on the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris, it is necessary to defend basic human rights even more strongly and to anchor them even more deeply in our society, Sommaruga said.

Switzerland, like numerous other countries worldwide, has let France know that “we stand at its side in solidarity. Most important at this point is that we stand together to defend our values.”

On Sunday in Paris, Sommaruga, who is also justice minister, marched in the front row of a group of heads of state who joined in honouring the French principles of liberty, equality and brotherhood. 

Many of the onlookers interviewed at the site expressed the desire to show solidarity with the 12 people who died on Wednesday at the magazine’s offices, and five further people who died when hostages were taken in a second attack at a kosher supermarket. Many carried banners or placards reading "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie).

Spectators at a football match in France observe a minute of silence on Saturday in memory of the victims of the shooting at Charlie Hebdo magazine. The banner reads "We are Charlie". Keystone

The attacks prompted an outpouring of sympathy and outrage from around the world, with mass demonstrations attended by tens of thousands of people in numerous countries in the following days. In Switzerland on Saturday 2,000 people attended a march in Geneva, and 500 attended a vigil in Bellinzona. 

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