Paris remembers victims of terrorism at silent ceremony

France honours those killed in assault on Charlie Hebdo and November attacks

French ministers at a ceremony to remember victims of terror attacks in Paris, France. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

French ministers at a ceremony to remember victims of terror attacks in Paris, France. Photograph: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

 

France honoured the victims of Islamist militant attacks last year in a silent ceremony on Sunday, almost a year to the day when more than a million people marched in Paris to protest the killings at the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

President Francois Hollande and mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo layed a wreath by the statue of Marianne, a symbol of the French republic, in the Place de la Republique in central Paris.

The statue has become a shrine to the 17 victims of the January 2015 attacks on Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish deli, and to the 130 people shot dead by militants on November 13th at a concert and in bars and restaurants in Paris.

“To the victims of the terrorist attacks in January and November . . . In this place, the people of France pay their respect,” reads a metal plaque unveiled by Hollande and Hidalgo under a newly planted memorial oak tree at the square.

Neither Hollande or Hidalgo spoke at the ceremony, but veteran French rock star Johnny Hallyday, accompanied only by a guitar, sang a song about the march on January 11th last year, which brought out the biggest crowds in Paris since the liberation of the city from Nazi Germany in 1944.

The French army choir sang late Belgian singer Jacques Brel’s Les Prénoms de Paris and Le Temps des Cerises, a song associated with the socialist Paris commune movement in 1871, while two actors read a speech by 19th-century writer Victor Hugo.

The huge square in Paris was the focal point of the January 2015 march, which was attended by dozens of world leaders.

Ms Hidalgo invited Parisians to come to the square with candles and said the Marianne statue - covered with flowers, candles and pictures of the victims - will be permanently lit from now on.

‘Paris is scarred’

“Paris is scarred, but we are still standing,” she told French television after the ceremony.

Mr Hollande, who stood stony-faced through the ceremony, later met with the families of the victims on the square.

France’s interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve said security forces remain on high alert as there is a real threat of more attacks.

“We are facing an extremely high level of threat, higher than it has ever been,” Cazeneuve said on iTELE television.

Reuters