Belfast Telegraph

Paris attacks: Rally cry echoes around world

Editor's Viewpoint

The powerful show of unity at yesterday’s rally in Paris was a “cri de coeur” from people of many nations in their support for freedom of expression, following the ghastly events last week in which 17 innocent people died.

The shock and revulsion felt in all civilized countries needed a rallying point for such international unity to express itself publicly.

The Paris rally attracted well over one million people, and also the leaders of 40 nations, including the Prime Minister David Cameron, the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

This impressive show of solidarity sent out a message to terrorists and dictators of all kinds that freedom of expression, whether through the media or through marching or by any other lawful means, is at the very heart of our civilization. Among the poignant images was that of a young boy who held up a banner reading ‘Later I will be a journalist. I am not afraid.’

It is important to remember, however, that the extremists who caused such havoc in France represented only a tiny minority of Muslims. The heroism of one of the policemen who tried to protect the journalists, and also that of the store worker who saved lives in the supermarket siege, are just two examples of the vast majority of law-abiding Muslims elsewhere who were also horrified by what had happened.

The dignity of the Paris rally yesterday was in stark contrast to the mayhem and chaos on the streets of the same city last week.

People from many other places will take this to heart. These atrocities have united the world in opposition to this new, terrifying threat. Authorities in the UK are on high alert for terror attacks, and are particularly worried by the number of young men returning after fighting for Isis.

We all pray that the tragic events in Paris will mark a bloody end to mindless attacks on innocent civilians, but that is unfortunately unlikely. A clear message was sent to terrorists yesterday by a million-and-a-half people on the streets of Paris — the world is standing as one for peace and it will not allow evil to triumph.

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