'Je suis Charlie' rally in Melbourne

Hundreds of people have rallied in Melbourne to show solidarity with those killed in the attack on the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo. 

(Transcript from World News Radio)

A series of rallies have been held around the world to show solidarity with those killed in the attack on the Paris offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

One rally, like many others dubbed "Je suis Charlie" - or "I am Charlie" - was at Melbourne's Federation Square.

Van Nguyen was there.

(Click on audio tab to listen to this item)

Amid light rain showers, the mood at the Melbourne gathering was sombre.

The crowd 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".

French woman Maeva Siena who helped to organise "Je Suis Charlie", says she's surprised that hundreds of people turned up at 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."

Ms Siena says the Paris shooting is sad news.

"We just want to be quiet. It's just sitting and 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 organised Je Suis Charlie with Ms Siena.

She says everyone is entitled to speak their mind.

"It's not only the French community. Freedom of speech is all over the world. So it's not only for France. It happened in France but it could happen here and I cross my fingers, not. But you understand what I mean. 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."

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

Another one of the demonstrators was Sophie, from France.

She says she was shocked when she heard news of the attack.

"I think about all my friends and family in France. But more because it's just not a terrorist attack against France, it's a terrorist attack against freedom of speech and it's something like, it's very important all around the world. So I think when somebody attacks freedom of speech, it's the beginning of the end."

Jean is another demonstrator who believes journalists should be able to express themselves.

"To me, it was something really close because this magazine, even if it was very polemical and it was sometimes borderline, I was reading it when I was younger. And even though now I don't agree with most of the things they said, it's still a strong part of me and it helped me become the person I am today."

 

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