#JeSuisCharlie: Vigil held at Newseum for victims of deadly shooting attack in France
A vigil was held at the Newseum for the 12 victims in the deadliest terrorist attack in France in more than a half a century.
It was quite the turnout Wednesday night. Initially, the vigil had been planned outside the White House because of what the White House stands for in the eyes of the world. But the organizers reconsidered and said the cold-blooded murders were meant to silence opinion and thinking, especially the freedom of the press. So they chose the one place that always upholds freedom of speech -- the Newseum.
One by one, all 12 victims were announced at the vigil followed by the now trending hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.
Michel Cornu is French and his family lives back in Paris. Wednesday's attack did not only hit home, it hit where it hurts the most.
"He's the one who called me this morning when I was in my bed," said Olivier Roumy. "He's the one who texted me and this guy was crying … He's going to cry right now talking about it."
Despite being thousands of miles away here in Washington D.C., videos and images showing a cop being executed by a gunman with an assault rifle in hand has resonated around the world.
American-Islamic leaders say that officer was a practicing Muslim.
"His name is Ahmed Merabet," said Nihad Awad, executive director and co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). "He's Muslim and that shows that these people are killing more Muslims than others and there is no religious justification for the murderous attack they did today."
The deadly attack was on journalists and cartoonists at the weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo that for decades have published controversial political and religious caricatures. The most recent one was posted just minutes before the shooting rampage.
"We might not like some things that Charlie Hebdo says, but it doesn't matter," said organizer Alex Cournol. "At the end of the day, it's about freedom of speech, it's about freedom of the press and we are to support that."
The pen is mightier than the sword is a sentiment which echoes the First Amendment and the vigil was held at the foot of the very words that comprise it.
"It's an attack against the freedom of speech, and what it changes is that you have masses of people gathered here in Washington, you have masses of people who are standing up today to say freedom of press is critical," said Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.
The former former finance minister of France was among those paying respect at the Newseum Wednesday night.
The screen in the front lobby was silent, but its words were loud and clear: Je Suis Charlie.
"It's just a bloody sad day," said Lagarde.
Here in the District, the mayor as well as the director of D.C.'s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency commented on the attack by saying they were briefed, and as always, are on alert as well as checking for any possible nexus to the attack.