Members of Sydney's Muslim community lay floral tributes to the victims of Sydney's cafe siege in Martin Place
IN PHOTO: Members of Sydney's Muslim community lay floral tributes to the victims of Sydney's cafe siege in Martin Place, December 18, 2014. REUTERS/Jason Reed

Sydney came together to honour the victims of the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. There were more than 500 French expatriates who gathered at Sydney's Martin Place.

Christophe Lecourtier, the French Ambassador to Australia, led the protesters who held posters saying "Freedom" and "Je Suis Charlie." The event took place only 50 metres from the Lindt Café, where there had been a 17-hour siege in December that killed hostages Katrina Dawson and Tori Johnson. Lecourtier said that people in Martin Place knew what violence and terrorism meant. He said that the French and the Australians shared similar values and Australia felt being a part of France when the latter was under attack. Felix Delhomme, a French national, said that he had attended the rally to send a message of peace and free speech. He said that he had been quite upset about the attack in Paris. He said that he had felt homesick as he was not with family and friends during that time. However, he said that he was happy to see a huge number of people coming together "in hard times."

The rally was all about solidarity and silence. The French community in Sydney just held printed slogans above their head and expressed defiance against the terror that wanted to strip freedom of expression away and instil fear. The Martin Place bell chimed and the organisers read the names of the 20 victims aloud, Daily Telegraph reports. Paloma Clement-Picos, one of the organisers of the rally, said that it had been tough for French expatriates to watch the Charlie Hebdo massacre on TV especially because they were far away from their home. She said that she was "sad and shocked by all the violence." However, she said that it brought her joy to see how the world reacted to the atrocity.

Katell Kuuine said that she had brought her children to make them understand the importance of freedom. "Even if we didn't like maybe the caricature of Charlie Hebdo, it's an icon and an icon of freedom of expression," ABC News quotes Kuuine, "And Australia and our French [people], we understand we have to protect our freedom."

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