Hundreds of people flocked to London's Trafalgar Square on Wednesday to attend a silent vigil for those killed in the French massacre. Many held pens, pencils and notebooks in the air to show their solidarity for the journalists and police murdered at the Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris. Others held aloft makeshift placards reading "Je suis Charlie" - "I am Charlie". Dean Stoker, a 38-year-old architect from London, looked on as he held up the simple printed placard. He said: "I am just here out of solidarity. I was really sickened by what I saw today. It is an incredibly important thing, freedom of the press and tolerance of others."
The London demonstration mirrored a similar outpouring in France in which students and journalists assembled in a show of solidarity with their countrymen in the Place de la Republique in Paris. In London, Alice Blanc, 19, a law and development student originally from Paris, held up a quote often attributed to Voltaire, saying: "I do no agree with what you have to say, but I will defend to death your right to say it." She said: "I don't think a country like France today should have a problem with freedom of speech. No matter what a journalist or magazine has to say, even if it is not what the majority of people think, they still have the right to say it without feeling in danger, which is the case today."
The mood was sombre as a large crowd gathered in front of The National Gallery, not far from Nelson's Column, to express a mute horror at the events in the French capital. Dozens of French people were among them, along with others of diverse nationalities who came to show they would be unbowed by terrorism. Among them was Esther Benjoar, 25, a Parisian who has lived in London for the last two years. She said: "It is people like you and I who went to work today who got killed for their passion, their job. It is the right that the French republic gave them to say what they want to say, and they got killed because of that. They didn't do anything wrong and I think it is time for France to fight against terrorism."
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