An unprecedented show of solidarity took place Sunday in Paris at a “unity rally” against the terror attacks that claimed 17 lives in France over the past week.
One million people had been expected to take part in the rally, but media reports later said the number had swelled to 3.7 million.
The march, which snaked from the Place de la Republique in central Paris to the Place de La Nation, came in the aftermath of a tragic week that saw journalists, cartoonists, police officers, and civilians killed by terrorists.
An unprecedented number of police and security officials covered the rally as residents took to the streets, with over 2,300 officers staking out the area.
Among the marchers — British Prime Minister David Cameron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Queen Rania, and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. The world leaders joined French President Francois Hollande in a show of solidarity against terrorism.
“It is a war against terrorism, against jihadism, against radical Islam, against everything that is aimed at breaking fraternity, freedom, solidarity,” French Prime Minister Manuel Valls declared Sunday.
However, CNN criticized President Obama for not attending. In an article titled “Where was Obama,” the story said: “The heads of England, Germany and Israel were there. But President Barack Obama didn’t attend a unity march in Paris on Sunday, days after the deadly attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Nor did his secretary of state, John Kerry, who has deep ties to France.”
The rally came after Brothers Said Kouachi, 34, and Cherif Kouachi, 32, along with 18-year-old accomplice Hamyd Mourad attacked the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo Wednesday, killing 12, including journalists, cartoonists, and police. The violence was in response to the outlet publishing images mocking the Prophet Muhammad.
On Thursday, a terrorist tied with the Charlie Hebdo attackers killed a female police officer in Montrouge — a southern suburb in Paris. And on Friday, two separate hostage standoffs unfolded. Four people were killed at a kosher grocery store when Amedy Coulibaly opened fire in the market. A hostage being held by the Kouachi brothers survived.
Coulibaly is also believed to have shot and injured a female jogger on Wednesday. French prosecutors said Sunday they have linked shell cases found in the eastern Paris town of Fontenay-aux-Roses where the jogger was shot, to a gun used at the kosher market.
Six of the supermarket hostages were saved by a Muslim store employee who hid them. All three gunmen in the two standoffs were killed.
Coulibaly’s girlfriend, Hayat Boumedienne, who is believed to have played a role in the attacks escaped to Turkey, touching off an international manhunt.
The broadcast news shows led coverage Sunday with the unity march, with ABC’s “This Week,” CBS’s “Face the Nation” and NBC’s “Meet The Press” all interviewing U.S. Attorney General Holder live from Paris.
“We are at war with terrorists who commit these heinous acts and use Islam; they use a corrupted version of Islam,” Holder told Chuck Todd on NBC in response to a question as to whether the U.S. is at war with radical Islam.
At 7 a.m. PT and 8 a.m. PT, CNN preempted “Fareed Zakaria GPS” and “Reliable Sources” to air live coverage of the march with Jake Tapper and Christiane Amanpour anchoring on the ground. MSNBC and Fox News both dipped in and out of the march during their regularly scheduled programming.
Anita Bennett contributed to this report.