Thousands join vigil in Brussels district of Molenbeek for Paris attacks victims

2015-11-18 20:52:40 GMT2015-11-19 04:52:40(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BRUSSELS, Nov. 18 (Xinhua) -- Thousands of people gathered on Wednesday in the main square of Molenbeek, a district of the Belgian capital, to pay tribute to the victims of the attacks last Friday in Paris, Xinhua journalists noted at the scene.

Police checks were carried out to ensure the safety of protesters, and numerous Belgian and foreign media were present.

Hundreds of candles were placed on the pavement of the square, positioned to spell out the name "Molenbeek".

The French flag hung outside the Molenbeek town hall.

The demonstrators came to show their solidarity to the French people, shouting "We are all together" and "Islam is peace".

The mayor of the Brussels municipality, Francoise Schepmans, delivered a speech to the crowd. She offered condolences to the victims in Paris and said she was "deeply shocked" by recent events.

But she stressed: "Molenbeek is not a rear base of jihadism."

Molenbeek, a district of Brussels, has been the center of major police operations in recent days connected to the investigation into Friday's terror attacks in Paris.

A Moroccan woman present at the vigil told Xinhua: "I've lived here for 15 years. It's a normal, safe place. But the coverage by European media in recent days give people the image that this is a dangerous place. It's not true."

Others present carried signs with messages such as: "I love Molenbeek".

After a speech by the mayor, a minute of silence was held.

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