Commemorations held in Paris one year after deadly attack

Paris, Nov 13 (IANS) French President Francois Hollande opened a national day of commemoration one year after the terror attacks hit Paris. Commemorations were held on Sunday in the city at the places of the attacks which claimed 130 lives.

The commemorations started in front of the door of the Stade de France in the presence of Hollande, mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo and mayor of Saint-Denis Didier Paillard, Xinhua news agency reported.

The commemorations later went on to the cafes and restaurants Le Carillon, Le Petit Cambodge, La Bonne Biere, Comptoir Voltaire and la Belle Equipe, and ended in front of the Bataclan performance hall where 90 people lost their lives.

The commemoration in Bataclan started at 11 a.m. Plaques written “Floating but not sinking, Paris remembers” were observed and people paying tribute to the victims gathered around in deep grief.

A wreath of flowers was laid out at the theatre. The victims’ names were read out in solemn atmosphere. A crowd, including the families of the victims, gathered outside the theatre centre to pay tribute to the victims of the heinous attack carried out by the Islamic State militant group.

This weekend, several tributes have already taken place. A minute of silence was observed on Friday at the Stade de France before the kick-off of the football game between France and Sweden, and the concert hall of Bataclan reopened its door Saturday with a concert of artist Sting.

“Tonight we have two tasks to achieve: first to remember those who lost their lives in the attack, and then to celebrate life and music in this historic place,” Sting told the crowd.

The city of Paris has been preparing for several months to organise the commemoration of the attacks of November 13 last year in close collaboration with the associations and the victims’ families.

Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo said on the occasion of the commemoration that Paris is a city that holds all the promises of its motto — “crossing without ever sinking in the storms of history”.

For the rest of the memorial day, Life for Paris association is planning concerts, round-table on resilience and exhibition of memorial messages and drawings left in attacks’ sites.

The association, made up of 650 of the attacks’ victims and their families, organised a gathering outside Paris city hall where dozens of coloured balloons are launched to represent all the victims.

A year after the attacks, France’s worst terror assault, investigation showed that the series of shootings and bombings were organised from Syria, prepared in Belgium and executed in Paris with internal complicity.

However, questions about the mastermind remains without answer after the attacks’ only survivor Salah Abdeslam, now in solitary confinement in a Paris jail, refused to testify on the attacks.

After the assaults, Hollande declared a state of emergency which remains in place following the carnage in Nice city during the Bastille Day celebration on July 14.

French Prime Minister Manuel Valls said on Sunday that the state of emergency would “undoubtedly be extended by a few months” to ensure the security of the presidential election.

“It is difficult today to put an end to the state of emergency. Especially since we are going to engage in a presidential campaign in a few weeks with meetings and public reunions. So we must protect our democracy,” he said.

In an opinion column published in several European newspapers, the premier warned that France is facing “heavy and constant (terror attack) threat.”

“Terrorism will still strike us. But, we have all the means to resist and all the strength to overcome,” he said.