PARIS — An extraordinary chain of 1.5 million people, led by a group of world leaders linking arms, marched down the Boulevard Voltaire in a show of force Sunday meant to illustrate the power of unity and freedom of expression over the sting of fanaticism and terror.
After a barrage of violence that traumatized the nation and left 17 victims dead, the boulevards of Paris produced a striking counter image: French President François Hollande, arm and arm with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and flanked by the likes of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and a host of European and African leaders.
An estimated 4 million people nationwide — more than a third of them in Paris — mobilized, with sister demonstrations of support erupting from Ramallah to Sydney to Washington. “Paris is the capital of the world today,” Hollande said.
Yet the show of solidarity could not entirely dispel the unease that has followed the attacks.
U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., who was in Paris for a security conference, said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that the prospect of “lone wolf” terrorist attacks in the United States “frankly keeps me up at night.”