Commemorative rally held in Zagreb following attack on Charlie Hebdo

About 50 people, including representatives of the media, gathered in Zagreb’s French Republic Square on Thursday to pay tribute to the victims of Wednesday’s terrorist attack on the Paris offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, in which 12 people were killed.

The rally was organised by the Youth Initiative for Human Rights, a member of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement which has organised similar rallies across Europe.

“This rally is an expression of sympathy to the families of the journalists killed and to their colleagues, as well as an expression of support for the idea of a free and open society and freedom of speech and the media. Charlie Hebdo is an important critical voice in society because satire is a special form of expression in a free society which criticises in a specific way,” Mario Mazic of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights told Hina. “Rallies like this one, along with the efforts of non-governmental organisations and media, should send out a message of openness, acceptance and tolerance,” he added.

The head of the Croatian Journalists’ Association, Zdenko Duka, said he was glad to see rallies being organised in Croatia as well, not just to express sympathy and solidarity but also “a wish to protect, to the greatest extent possible, freedom of expression and freedom of the media.”

“Yesterday’s attack was carried out by a group of criminals and not by members of a religion or a nation. There’s no collective guilt and that should be borne in mind so that we can live in a more tolerant, freer and safer environment tomorrow,” Duka said, adding that Muslim communities should do more to expose extremists among their ranks.

French Embassy official Stanislas Suber said people were still shocked by that “cowardly and barbaric attack”. He said that rallies of people in France and elsewhere in the world, including Croatia, “strengthen the belief that democratic values can overcome barbarism, which gives consolation to the French people.”

Suber said that the French Embassy had received numerous expressions of sympathy from Croatian state institutions and citizens and was “very touched by these expressions of solidarity.”

Another rally in tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack in Paris was scheduled for 7pm in Zagreb’s main square Trg Bana Josipa Jelacica.