Crime & Justice

Solemnity, silence as France marks 5th anniversary of Paris attacks

By Marta Garde

Paris, Nov 13 (efe-epa).- France on Friday marked the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris attacks with solemn ceremonies paying tribute to the 130 victims.

It comes at a time when the county is back in a state of high alert over recent terrorist attacks.

The Paris attacks, claimed by the Islamic State terror organization, began outside the Stade de France when three suicide bombers blew themselves up, claiming one victim, just as a football match between France and Germany got underway.

Another group of Islamic State terrorists then launched opened fire on bars and terraces in the center of the French capital, killing dozens and causing mass panic. They then headed to the Bataclan music venue, where they killed 90 people in the crowd that had come to watch American rock band Eagles of Death Metal.

The ceremony held in Paris on Friday, which was restricted by Covid-19 measures, followed the same path through the city.

Prime Minister Jean Castex and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo led an official committee that brought together representatives from survivors and victim relatives groups such as Life for Paris and 13onze15 Fraternity and Truth.

There was a high-security presence at each point in the march, where the names of those killed in the location were read out and flowers were laid in their honor.

Castex tweeted Paris’ motto in Latin: “Fluctuat nec mergitur,” which translates to “(she) is rocked (by the waves) but does not sink),” a slogan that became popular as a symbol of resistance after the 2015 attacks.

If it was not for the pandemic, Cristina Garrido would have traveled to Paris from Spain, as she does every year, to pay tribute to her son, Juan Alberto González, one of those killed at the Bataclan.

“It doesn’t make a difference that it’s the 13th of November, it could be the 2nd or the 4th. The emptiness is terrible every day, but the 13th is harder still. You never expect life to take away the most valuable thing in such a cruel way. We will never recover from that,” she tells Efe over the phone.

France’s former president François Hollande, head of state at the time of the attacks, told broadcaster FranceInter that the events of that day had an individual and collective impact on the country.

“A country also has psychological consequences. First of all, there were 130 fatalities and 400 injured, but the notion of lasting peace was also lost, that we were protected from everything. We felt as though terrorism that had come to stay,” he said.

Those responsible for the attack are due to go on trial in 2021. Twenty, in all, will appear before the French justice system, including Salah Abdeslam, the only surviving terrorist actively involved in the killing that night. He decided to flee the scene, rather than trigger his explosive suicide vest.

Friday’s tributes would also have coincided with the verdict of another important terror trial in France, had it not been for Covid-19, which is centered against the Islamist attack earlier in 2015 against the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which killed 17 people.

The trial began on 2 September but was delayed when coronavirus was detected among the 10 defendants. The process is due to resume on Monday, according to French anti-terrorism prosecutors.

The trial comes amid a fresh terror alert in France. In October, a terrorist decapitated a teacher outside his school in Paris after he showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to his students. Then, another attack in a church in Nice claimed the lives of three people. EFE-EPA


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