France re­mem­bers 130 killed in Paris at­tacks Si­lence marks 1st an­niver­sary

Kuwait Times - - FROM THE ARABIC PRESS -

A somber si­lence marked France’s an­niver­sary com­mem­o­ra­tions of co­or­di­nated at­tacks on Paris yes­ter­day, with the only voices read­ing names of the 130 victims of the Is­lamist ex­trem­ists and the son of the first per­son to die.

Michael Dias lauded the lessons of in­te­gra­tion his fa­ther Manuel, an im­mi­grant from Por­tu­gal, taught him so youth can in­te­grate in­stead of turn­ing them­selves into “can­non fod­der.” Un­der heavy se­cu­rity, Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande un­veiled a plaque out­side the Stade de France “in mem­ory of Manuel Dias,” pulling away a French flag cov­er­ing it on a wall at one of the en­trances to the French na­tional sta­dium, where Dias was killed on Nov. 13, 2015, by a sui­cide bomber.

Paris Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo joined the pres­i­dent six other sites where crowds ate, drank or rev­eled in mu­sic at the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall. The Is­lamic State group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tacks. Three teams of ex­trem­ists com­ing from neigh­bor­ing Bel­gium tar­geted six bars and ea­ter­ies, turn­ing scenes of Fri­day night fun into blood­baths.

Learn­ing to live again

At the Stade de France, on the north­ern edge of Paris, Michael Dias said his fa­ther Manuel was “liv­ing proof that in­te­gra­tion is pos­si­ble, nec­es­sary” to end the mad­ness of vi­o­lence car­ried out by those who felt ex­cluded.

Learn­ing to live again af­ter ex­trem­ists killed his fa­ther was “a personal chal­lenge, but it con­cerns us all,” Dias said, cred­it­ing his fa­ther, who came to France at 18, with life lessons like the need for ed­u­ca­tion. “It is by knowl­edge, by in­tel­li­gence that the chil­dren of to­mor­row can stop hu­mil­i­at­ing them­selves as can­non fod­der in the ser­vice of crim­i­nal, mafia-style in­ter­ests ... as is the case to­day. (They are) in­ca­pable of re­flec­tion, think­ing about the world and ex­press­ing the un­ease and so­cial ex­clu­sion they feel.”

The fi­nal stop, the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall which re­opened Satur­day night with a con­cert by Bri­tish pop star Sting - was the site of the blood­i­est and long­est at­tack. There, 90 peo­ple were killed by three at­tack­ers who also took a group of peo­ple hostage. The youngest and old­est victims of the night of hor­ror were a 17 -year-old and a 68 year-old - both killed at the Bat­a­clan.

Fam­i­lies of victims, se­cu­rity and res­cue forces and some still try­ing to heal were among those present at the cer­e­monies. In ad­di­tion to those killed, nine peo­ple re­main hos­pi­tal­ized from the at­tacks and oth­ers are par­a­lyzed. The gov­ern­ment says more than 600 peo­ple are still re­ceiv­ing psy­cho­log­i­cal treat­ment af­ter the at­tacks. “This an­niver­sary is a fur­ther re­minder of the volatile ter­ror­ist threat faced in Europe to­day,” said a state­ment by Europol, the Euro­pean po­lice agency.

The re­mem­brances come af­ter the Sting con­cert Satur­day night that re­opened the re­fur­bished Bat­a­clan con­cert hall. Sting, in a T-shirt with a gui­tar slung over his shoul­der, asked con­cert go­ers in flu­ent French to ob­serve a minute of si­lence as he opened the show.

“We’ve got two im­por­tant things to do tonight,” the 65-year-old singer said. “First, to re­mem­ber and honor those who lost their lives in the at­tacks a year ago ... and to cel­e­brate the life and the mu­sic of this his­toric venue . ... We shall not for­get them.”

He then strummed out a string of hits, in­clud­ing “Frag­ile” and “Mes­sage in a Bot­tle.” Elodie Suigo, who lost six friends in the at­tack, said that it was a hard night, even though she loved the mu­sic. “It was dif­fi­cult go­ing through that door. I don’t think I was the only one... We can­not say it was a mag­i­cal mo­ment be­cause of ev­ery­thing that changed in our lives. But (Sting) is a re­ally great man,” she said.

With more than 400 rounds fired within 10 min­utes at the restau­rants, the co­or­di­nated at­tacks were a wake-up call for France and for Europe. They fol­lowed the Jan­uary 2015 newsroom mas­sacre at the satiric news­pa­per Char­lie Hebdo in Paris and a Kosher gro­cery store that left 17 dead. But the com­plex plan­ning be­hind the Nov. 13 at­tacks and the high num­ber of deaths re­vealed a de­gree of French vul­ner­a­bil­ity not pre­vi­ously sus­pected by au­thor­i­ties.

Neigh­bor­ing Bel­gium, the start­ing point of the at­tacks in Paris, was hit a few months later on March 22 with at­tacks on its air­port and a metro sta­tion that killed 32 peo­ple.

France de­clared a state of emer­gency af­ter the Nov. 13 at­tacks, which is still in force. Still, that failed to pre­vent the killing of a po­lice cou­ple in their home last June, the July 14 Bastille Day truck at­tack in Nice that killed 86 revel­ers and the slay­ing of a priest at the al­tar of his Nor­mandy church in July.

Prime Min­is­ter Manuel Valls has warned this week­end that “Yes, ter­ror­ism will strike us again.” But, he con­tended, “we have all the re­sources to re­sist and all the strength to win.” —AP

PARIS: French Pres­i­dent Fran­cois Hol­lande and Paris Mayor Anne Hi­dalgo stand at at­ten­tion af­ter un­veil­ing a com­mem­o­ra­tive plaque near the Petit Cam­bodge and Car­il­lon cafes yes­ter­day, dur­ing a cer­e­mony held for the victims of last year’s Paris at­tacks which tar­geted the Bat­a­clan con­cert hall as well as a se­ries of bars and killed 130 peo­ple. —AP

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