Chicago anti-terrorism rally held in support of France, free expression

SHARE Chicago anti-terrorism rally held in support of France, free expression

Lighting candles and chanting, “We are not afraid,” hundreds of people gathered at Daley Plaza Sunday to show solidarity with the millions who rallied in France to denounce terrorism and mourn victims of the deadly attacks that rocked the country last week.

Frenchman Fabrice Vinci felt compelled to travel to Chicago from his northwest Indiana home with his six-year-old daughter to participate in the rally.

“We want to show the French people that we support them during this difficult moment and especially to show these terrorists that we are united,” said Vinci. “We can show them that they will not impose their way of thinking, and freedom and democracy will be stronger.”

The Chicago rally followed the largest demonstrations in France’s history, in which 3.7 million people marched in a show of unity.

“I was really happy that so many French people are realizing how important it is to be together and to show the world and these extremists that they will not have the last word,” Vinci said.

The demonstrations came after terrorist attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which published cartoons of Muslim Prophet Muhammad; and assaults on a kosher supermarket and police.

“We are French. We are Americans. We are Jews. We are Muslim. We are,” was among the sentiments expressed on hand-made signs at the Chicago rally. Another read “France USA United Against Terrorism.”

Hasnae Fathi, 29, who is Muslim and was visiting Chicago from Morocco, joined the rally.

“I came to see the event and be a part of the event for the human beings who were killed and also to show that Muslims are here,” she said. “It’s not about Muslims against non-Muslims… I think it’s important to come together.”

Attendees participated in a moment of silence for the victims, and lit candles in their honor. They sang the French national anthem and spoke in support of freedom of the press.

“I think that this was a big hit around the world for journalists, for satirists and for everyone who works in journalism,” said Abdou Ndiaye, a 26-year-old economics graduate student at Northwestern University. “I think it matters that people show their support, that we condemn these horrendous crimes that happened and move forward and see what could be the solutions to ensure freedom of speech all around the world.”

“We stand in support with France, with the victims and with anybody who is a lover of freedom of speech and tolerance,” said Eve Zuckerman, who helped organized the rally and is president of the University of Chicago French Club.

Retired French teacher and Willowbrook resident Mary Lindquist said she had been glued to the television following the news on the attacks.

“I wanted to do something,” she said as she stood amid the crowd in Chicago. “What happened is horrific.”

But Lindquist, who has lived in France, said she doesn’t expect it to diminish the resolve of the French to maintain their freedoms.

“I think that they will be very vigilant about trying to be secure, but also maintaining … liberty and freedoms,” she said. “That’s what this whole thing is about.”

Contributing: Associated Press

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