Paris falls silent in commemoration of terrorist attack victims

A week of commemoration for the victims of terrorism in Paris last year culminated on Sunday with a minute's silence during an emotional ceremony in the French capital.

French President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled a plaque at a freshly planted oak tree on Place de la Republique, which became a defiant gathering place after the first attacks in January 2015 that targeted the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and a Jewish supermarket.

Seventeen people were killed over three days of violence.

Later that year in November, thousands returned to the iconic square after a night of coordinated attacks in bars, a theatre and a football stadium left 130 people dead.

There were no speeches by politicians at Sunday's memorial service.

French singer Johnny Hallyday performed Un dimanche de janvier (A Sunday in January) to mark the day exactly one year ago, when more than 3.7 million people took to the streets of France to honour the victims of the first attacks.

The choir of the French military also sang at the event, giving a resounding rendition of La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France.

This was followed by a reading of Victor Hugo's speech given in 1870 when the exiled writer returned to Paris at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. His words echoed sentiments from world leaders in response to France's year of terrorism: "He who attacks Paris, attacks humanity."

Anyone wanting to attend Sunday's commemorative event had to undergo tight security checks, as television reports showed.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls showed solidarity with the Jewish community in a televised speech on Saturday evening. "Without the French Jews, France would not be France," he said.

Hollande also made a point of maintaining cultural ties with the Muslim community in a surprise visit to the Grand Mosque of Paris after paying his respects at the ceremony.

Last update: Sun, 10/01/2016 - 17:33


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