Dozens of world leaders including Muslim representatives and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined some 1.5 million French citizens in a march through Paris on Sunday amid high security, in an unprecedented tribute to victims of this week's Islamist militant attacks.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas were among over 40 foreign leaders marching with President Francois Hollande.
Netanyahu - who earlier encouraged French Jews to emigrate to Israel - arrived and waved to the crowd after greeting French President Francois Hollande.
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An Elysee official quoted President Francois Hollande as telling his ministers: "Paris is today the capital of the world. Our entire country will rise up and show its best side."
Before taking off for Paris early Sunday morning, Netanyahu said "I am leaving for Paris to participate in the rally together with world leaders as part of a renewed struggle against Islamic terror, which threatens all of humanity, which I have urged for many years," he said.
"In the evening I will participate in a special rally with French President Francois Hollande and with the Jewish community in France," he added. "I will say that every Jew who wants to immigrate to Israel will be welcomed here with open arms." Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett will also attend, as will former Shas leader Eli Yishai.
Some 2,200 security personnel were being drafted in to protect marchers from would-be attackers with police snipers on rooftops and plain-clothes detectives mingling with the crowd. City sewers were searched ahead of the vigil and underground train stations around the march route are due to be closed down.
The silent march, starting at 3 pm (1400 GMT), reflects shock over the worst militant Islamist assault on a European city in nine years. For France, it raised questions of free speech, religion and security and beyond French frontiers it exposed the vulnerability of states to urban attacks.
Seventeen people, including journalists and policemen, lost their lives in three days of violence that began with a shooting attack on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday and ended with a hostage-taking at a kosher supermarket on Friday. The three gunmen were also killed.
"It will be an unprecedented demonstration that will be written in the history books," Prime Minister Manuel Valls said. "It must show the power and dignity of the French people, who will cry out their love of liberty and tolerance."
"If 100,000 French people of Spanish origin were to leave, I would never say that France is not France anymore. But if 100,000 Jews leave, France will no longer be France. The French Republic will be judged a failure,” Valls said in an interview ahead of the rally.
Je Suis Charlie, Je Suis Juif, Je Suis France
Under a blue winter sky and bright sunshine, a few hundred people gathered early to look at wreaths for the victims on Place de la Republique, the square from which the march will head off through Paris later. Giant letters attached to a statue in the middle of the square spelt out "Pourquoi?" ("Why?")
"I am here to show the terrorists they have not won - on the contrary, it is bringing people together of all religions," said Zakaria Moumni, a 34-year-old Franco-Moroccan draped in the French flag.
Across France on Saturday, hundreds of thousands of people took part in rallies to demonstrate against the attacks. Many people carried signs saying "Je suis Charlie" (I am Charlie).
"I want my child to be born in a better world," Pierine, 29 and heavily pregnant, said at a march in the Mediterranean city of Nice.
On Sunday, public transport in the Paris region was to be free. In a huge security operation, plainclothes policemen were to protect leading personalities, with snipers posted on rooftops along the route from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation.
"Everything will be done to make sure that those who want to come to this meeting can do so safely," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.
Reuters, Attila Somfalvi and Rachel Cadars contributed to this report