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Paris Is the Capital of the World Today': Largest Demonstration in French History Brings World Leaders Together for Free Speech

People start gathering at Republique square before the demonstration, in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

PARIS (TheBlaze/AP) — Leaders from dozens of countries arrived at the French presidential palace in an extraordinary display of global unity, while tens of thousands of people crammed into Paris' Republique square to honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed.

In the streets of Paris, hundreds of thousands of French gathered in a display of unity — a display that officials are calling the largest demonstration in French history.

Some estimates pegged attendance at 1.5 million.

Given France's population of 66 million, the figures could mean nearly 2.5 percent of the entire country's population participated in the march — though plenty of foreigners converged on the French capital to rally as well.

Children and adults start gathering at Republique square before the demonstration, in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

Even hardened rivals such as the Israeli prime minister and the Palestinian president, and top representatives from Ukraine and Russia, were gathered together in the giant formal rooms of the Elysee, along with French President Francois Hollande.

"Paris is the capital of the world today," Hollande said, a few minutes before welcoming the leaders.

The three days of terror began Wednesday when a pair of masked gunmen stormed the newsroom of the satirical newspaper, killing 12 people. Later a separate gunman killed a policewoman on the outskirts of Paris and four hostages at a kosher grocery.

See images from the developing rally below:

People start gathering at Republique square before the demonstration, in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

French President Francois Hollande, right, walks with Joel Mergui, center, president of the French Jewish Consistory after a meeting with Jewish organizations in France, at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. Man at left is unidentified. (AP Photo/David Azia)

French President Francois Hollande welcomes Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the Elysee Palace, Paris, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

Posters hang on a section of a sculpture at Republique square before the demonstration, in Paris, France, Sunday, Jan. 11, 2015. A rally of defiance and sorrow, protected by an unparalleled level of security, on Sunday will honor the 17 victims of three days of bloodshed in Paris that left France on alert for more violence. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)

This story has been updated.

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