France displays solidarity, defiance after terror attacks

PARIS -- If the terrorists thought this week's attacks would spread fear and intimidation, they were wrong.

In fact, the killings have brought the French people together in a rare display of solidarity and defiance.

They took to the streets in cities across the country Saturday to defend freedom of speech and the rule of law.

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People hold a banner reading "For Democracy, Equality, Liberties, let's fight all forms of fascism" during a rally in Marseille, southeastern France, Jan. 10, 2015. BORIS HORVAT/AFP/Getty Images

France remains on high security alert with extra troops drafted into Paris, including paratroopers mingling with tourists at the Eiffel Tower.

All day, flowers were laid near the kosher supermarket, the scene of Friday's deadly siege.

It's been confirmed that as the commandos moved in Friday, they knew something gunman Amedy Coulibaly didn't.

Lassana Bathily, an employee, had hidden 15 customers -- including a 2-year-old child -- in a refrigerator.

"I switched off the light and the freezer," he said, "and I told them to keep calm."

In the end, all 15 escaped with their lives.

All over France on the Jewish Sabbath, the prayers of the community were for the four innocents, shot by the hostage-taker early on in the siege.

As night fell, a crowd formed outside the supermarket. People wanted to pay their respects and show they are not afraid.

Jean Marc Guedj knew one of the victims, a 21-year-old student from Tunisia named Yohav Hattab. He's deeply upset by what the French president called an "appalling anti-Semitic act."

"It's visceral," Guedj told me. "I just had to show up to say it's intolerable, this kind of hatred."

But on Saturday night, thousands of Parisians, not only Jews but people of all faiths, joined the vigil, convinced that only tolerance and unity would pull the country through this dark hour.

That conviction will be on display again Sunday in a massive march that's probably going to draw in excess of a million people as well as leaders from around the world.

  • Elizabeth Palmer
    Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."