French President visits mosque a year after terrorist attacks

PARIS: On Sunday, Francois Hollande who is French President, made and unannounced visit to the Paris to the main mosque in the French capital, a year after the terrorist attacks.

A French Presidency official said that the President had a short conversation and a moment of friendship and fraternity over a cup of tea.

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

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 Nov. 13 at a concert, and in bars and restaurants in Paris.

Hundreds of French mosques are participating in a major open-house event this weekend, offering visitors the opportunity to come in for tea and a chat about Islam in a country shaken by militant attacks.

The objective is to create a space where people can be together and meet normal Muslim worshippers and all of our fellow citizens, CFCM president Anouar Kbibech told AFP.

A fireman of Algerian origin, Faisal helped evacuate thousands from the Stade de France during the Paris attacks, guiding panicked football fans to safety as suicide bombers blew themselves up outside.

The militants behind the attacks appear to be Europeans of Arab origin, and the 40-year-old fireman worries that French Muslims may suffer greater discrimination as a result.

Decades after the first major waves of migration in the 1960s, many thousands of people still live in low-cost housing projects in Paris’ downtrodden banlieue (suburbs), where petty crime is rife and life is completely different from the glittering city centre.

A total of 17 people were killed in the January 2015 attacks which rocked France and touched off a wave of extremist violence that reached a head in November when a group of gunmen and suicide bombers unleashed mayhem in Paris, killing 130.

The 26 year old police woman was killed on January 8 by Amedy Coulibaly, the gunman who went on to attack the Hyper Cacher supermarket in east Paris.  Three shoppers and an employee were killed by Coulibaly before he was killed in a police raid.

Lassana Bathily was an undocumented migrant from Mali until he became an unlikely hero by saving shoppers’ lives during the militant attack on a Jewish supermarket in Paris a year ago.

 

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