World sings, lights up in solidarity with wounded France

Stirring renditions of “La Marseillaise” rang out Saturday from Dublin to New York as global landmarks were bathed in the French colours and thousands marched in solidarity with Paris after attacks that at least 129 dead.

Monuments from the Sydney Opera House in Australia to One World Trade Center in New York have been adorned with France’s red, white and blue, while the “Peace for Paris” symbol combining the city’s beloved Eiffel Tower with the peace sign of the 1960s went viral online.

New York’s Metropolitan Opera led by star tenor Placido Domingo mourned the nearly 130 victims of France’s worst-ever such attacks with an unscheduled performance of the distinctive French national anthem.

Many of the 6,000 participants in a march in the Irish capital were draped in the French blue, white and red flag, while others also sang the national anthem.

London paid homage to the victims with some two thousand people gathering at an evening vigil in the capital’s Trafalgar Square, where fountains and the grand portico of the National Gallery opposite were lit to resemble the Tricolour.

Earlier braving the afternoon rain, around 150 people displayed flags and home-made placards reading “Nous sommes Paris” (We are Paris) and “London stands with Paris”.

The Eiffel Tower, the symbol of the so-called city of light, was however shrouded in darkness and would remain closed “until further notice”, a spokeswoman told AFP.

Bouquets, candles and messages of condolence were laid at French embassies worldwide.

– Minute’s silence –

A Twitter campaign has begun encouraging notoriously tribal England football fans to join with French travelling supporters in singing “La Marsellaise” before the kick-off in the friendly match between both countries.

The European Union called for a minute’s silence to be held Monday for the victims of the attacks.

In Madrid and Barcelona, hundreds stood for a minute’s silence outside city hall.

US President Barack Obama, citing France’s national motto, said “we are reminded in this time of tragedy that the bonds of liberte, egalite, fraternite, are not just the values French people share, but we share”.

Queen Elizabeth II said she and her spouse Prince Philip were “deeply shocked,” and British Prime Minister David Cameron offered Britain’s help.

Indian Premier Narendra Modi called the attacks “anguishing and dreadful” and Hassan Rouhani of Iran condemned them as “crimes against humanity.”

“We share the sadness and the pain of the French people,” said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. “The Paris tragedy requires of us all to unite in the fight against extremism.”

Chinese President Xi Jinping said: “In these tragic times for the French people, I want… to condemn in the strongest ways this barbarous act.”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg stressed that the Paris attacks were not part of a fight between the Islamic world and the western world.

“This is a fight between extremists, criminals and people who believe in the fundamental values of freedom and the respect for human rights,” he told AFP.

However Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said France’s “mistaken policies… have contributed to the spread of terrorism”.

“France has got to know what we live with in Syria,” he added.

– ‘We are all France’ –

The outpouring of solidarity generated massive amounts of activity on social media, with the hashtags #prayforparis and #jesuisparis going viral.

One user, @emilymiddlemas_ , wrote “I am so heart broken! All my love and prayers go out to everyone affected by this horrible attack, when will this stop.”

A “Peace for Paris” symbol, combining the city’s Eiffel Tower with the peace sign, has gone viral on the Internet.

The designer 32-year-old London-based French graphic artist Jean Jullien, said “given the scale of the violence, the peace-and-love symbol was essential.”

Among other reactions:

– Pope Francis expressed his profound distress and solidarity with the casualties. “There cannot be justification, religious or human” for the attacks, he said.

– Spanish Premier Mariano Rajoy declared, “We are all France,” apparently echoing France’s support for the United States (“We are all Americans”) after 9/11.

– Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari hit out at “barbaric attacks… an unacceptable affront to all human values and civilized norms.”

– The grand imam of the prestigious Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo called the attacks “despicable” adding “it is time for the whole world to confront this monster.”

– Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “Israel stands shoulder to shoulder with French President Francois Hollande and with the people of France in our common battle against terrorism.”

– “Our hearts go out to all the victims and their families across the city tonight.”: Irish rock band U2

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