Charlie Hebdo: Thousands turn out for Melbourne, Sydney vigils


Thousands of people have turned out in Melbourne and Sydney to pay tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Thousands of people have turned out in Melbourne and Sydney to pay tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

In Melbourne stood in silence in front of an image of burning candles on the big screen at Federation Square, with the caption "Our thoughts are with the friends and families of the victims in the recent Paris attack".

Many of the demonstrators dressed in black, carried placards and brought pens and pencils to hold up high as they stood in silence.

In Sydney, a crowd gathered at Martin Place and in Hyde Park, dressed in white, to pay their respects. Earlier, bouquets of flowers were laid at the French consulate in Sydney, where flags were at half-mast.

French woman Maeva Siena, who helped to organise the vigil in Melbourne said she's surprised that hundreds of people turned up at such short notice.

"At first when I asked everybody to come, I just thought we will be fifty or sixty, maybe one hundred. And now on Facebook, we have more than one thousand. So, it's just amazing."

"We just want to show everyone that we are here and we know what happened and we are not scared. We just want to show them every time we will have our freedom of speech."

Laura Laffitte, who has lived in Melbourne for eight years, helped organise the event and said everyone is entitled to speak their mind.

"It's not only the French community. Freedom of speech is all over the world," she said.

"It happened in France but it could happen here and I cross my fingers, not.."

"We are free, we have no taboo to talk, to express what we want to express. So yes, it's more not about the community, it's more about everybody."

Tens of thousands have turned out for rallies and vigils around the world, to show solidarity with those killed in the attack.

French President Francoise Hollande has declared Thursday a day of national mourning after heavily armed gunmen killed 12 people, including four cartoonists, when they stormed the offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

The Australian Cartoonists Association said freedom of speech was the primary tool of all cartoonists, and it had only been "momentarily blunted by extremists".

"An incident like Paris doesn't stop us. It will never stop us. Because we are the truth in a complicated society," it said in a statement.

"We were the first media and we will be the last media."

Gatherings have been organised by the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance to demonstrate solidarity for their French colleagues.

News outlets including the ABC and The Guardian Australia posted on social media photos of their staff holding #JeSuisCharlie placards.

In Sydney, a condolence book has been set up at the MEAA headquarters where a mural of jailed Australian al-Jazeera journalist Peter Greste has been painted.

The phrase "Je Suis Charlie" has since been written on the wall next to it.

A condolence book will also be available at Sydney's French consulate from Friday.

Deputy consul-general Oliver Le Van Xieu said France and Australia held the same principles when it came to freedom of speech.

"It's a symbol that has been attacked, as it was in Sydney, so we have to take adequate measures," he told AAP.

Source: AAP

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