Charlie Hebdo solidarity rally planned in Stamford

A woman holds a sign as people take part in a vigil in Trafalgar Square, London, after three gunmen carried out a deadly terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire EMN-150901-122832001
A woman holds a sign as people take part in a vigil in Trafalgar Square, London, after three gunmen carried out a deadly terror attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing 12 people. Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire EMN-150901-122832001
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A solidarity rally in support of a free press will be held in Stamford this weekend.

Stamford French Group has arranged a silent meeting by Queen Eleanor’s Cross in Sheepmarket, outside the old Rutland and Stamford Mercury offices, at 2pm tomorrow (Saturday). The rally will show solidarity with the French people and highlight the importance of a free press following the fatal shootings at the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paries earlier this week. Twelve people, including the magazine’s editor and two policemen, were killed by masked gunmen on Wednesday.

Tens of thousands of French police and soldiers are currently hunting two suspects, Cherif and Said Kouachi, who allegedly carried out the attacks.

People across the world have been using the slogan Je Suis Charlie, which translates to I Am Charlie, to show solidarity with those killed and to support the right to a free press and freedom of speech.

In an e-mail promoting the meeting, Stamford French Group leader Lydia Russell-Demisse said: “You will be aware that there is a sizeable community of people in Stamford and surrounding areas originating from France and other French speaking countries.

“The recent killing of contributors to Charlie Hebdo has touched us, many of us having grown up with the satirical cartoons of very talented people. The cartoons do offend sometimes but it is the privilege of truly free countries to be able to express criticism freely.

“Voltaire said: ‘I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it’.”

She added: “Please join us, sporting any form of display, such as the “Je suis Charlie” or other wonderful cartoons that have been published recently.

“I am not too sure what is going to happen, but the idea is to be there and stand for freedom of expression.”

Advertising the meeting, Stamford French Group member Annie Hall wrote on Facebook: “Come with your placards. We need to show solidarity as well as the importance of the need to maintain freedom of speech. This, as the oldest paper in the UK, would seem to be the most appropriate venue.”