Mourners Bear Flowers and Hopes for Unabridged Liberty

At Sites Honoring Victims of Paris Attacks, Concerns About the Future


PARIS — The light of a candle flickered across Silvana DiPonzeo’s face as she leaned down to read one of the hundreds of notes and cartoons strewn among heaps of flowers near the former offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Since two gunmen stormed the offices on Jan. 7 and massacred a group of the newspaper’s editors for publishing irreverent depictions of Muhammad, she has made two visits from her home in Paris’s 19th Arrondissement to pay homage to the dead. On Tuesday, she was returning for a third time, in hopes of letting go of her grief.

“Everyone in this country has been touched by what happened — we’re still reeling from it,” Ms. DiPonzeo said, as tears rolled down her cheeks. “Something was killed in the soul of every person.”

She opened her purse and fished out a black sticker, emblazoned with a single word in white: “Liberté.” She placed it along a row of candles. “I’m here to grieve,” she said. “But I’m also here because we cannot let our liberty and freedom of speech die.”

Almost two weeks after 17 people were killed around Paris in the worst terrorist attacks in France’s modern history, the sites of the carnage have turned into impromptu shrines.

More than that, they have become gathering places for mourners, including visitors from other countries, to share their sadness and to leave messages of peace and hope — written in French, Hebrew, Arabic, English and numerous other languages in a global expression of solidarity.

Dignitaries have come, too, including Secretary of State John Kerry. On this frigid Tuesday morning, a handful of visitors were jolted from their solemnity when Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York drove up in a caravan with Anne Hidalgo, the mayor of Paris.

Linking arms with Patrick Pelloux, a Charlie Hebdo staff member, they placed a large bouquet atop the piles of roses, hyacinths, lilies, tulips, mums, orchids and other flowers, which in some places were already stacked knee deep.

Earlier, surrounded by a huge security detail, Mr. de Blasio had gone to a kosher market in eastern Paris to place a wreath where a third terrorist had killed four hostages in a siege that galvanized France’s Jewish community.