Remarks by the French Ambassador, HE Mrs. Anne de La Blache
Friday, 20 November, 2015
One week ago, France was victim of a terrorist attack of an unprecedented scale and of extreme barbarity.
During his speech to Parliament on Monday, the French President made very clear that these attacks carried out by a jihadist group are acts of war, acts of aggression against our country and our values.
The terrorist gang from the so-called Islamic state attacked places where simple, nice, ordinary people, from various countries, culture, background, religions, were gathering for a festive moment with friends and families, in a concert hall, in restaurants and cafés or in a Stadium for a soccer match. They were just innocent people chosen for a massacre.
129 people were killed; hundreds have been injured, some extremely seriously, in these acts of cold-blooded violence.
Today’s ceremony is to mourn these victims, young victims - most of them where not yet 30, to share our compassion with their families and loved ones who are experiencing the most terrible pain and horror. It is also the occasion to pay tribute to those who did their courageous duty to avoid more victims, first of all the security forces but also individuals who were truly heroic in these tragic circumstances.
Let me also point out three things.
Last week, France was attacked. Recent history of terrorism shows that this threat is not only viral but global. There are no safe heavens anymore in today’s world. The answer must be global as you don’t want any more victims whether in France or elsewhere. This week, the SG of OIC (Organization of the Islamic Conference) called « urgently for a common international action for a merciless fight against the scourge of terrorism which is now the number one enemy of humanity as a whole».
The aim of this coward and despicable attack was to frighten us, France of course but obviously not only. The objective is to create fear and division and to prevent us from helping those who fight for their liberty and for peace in the Middle East. Since the beginning of this year, 10 countries on different continents have been struck by Daesh, the so-called Islamist State in Iraq and Syria.
Our answer is that we are not afraid. We are going to fight these murderers and we are absolutely determined, with the help of our partners and allies, to destroy this terrorist group.
My last point is about religion. These guys are definitely misusing religion to cover their terrorist activities. Since last Saturday, numerous Heads of State and International Org, leaders of the civil society and NGOs sent messages of condolence and support. Different religious authorities also expressed themselves, all pointed out that using God’s name to justify acts of barbarity and create hatred was a blasphemy. Pope Francis, the Patriarchs of Iraq, Syria and Istanbul, The Orthodox metropolitan, the World Council of churches, the protestant, evangelical and Anglican churches, the World Jewish Congress and the American Jewish Committee, numerous Muslim associations from Morocco to the Iman of Al-Azhar, the International Union of Muslim scholars in Doha or the Organization of the Islamic Conference, all expressed their solidarity and support and strongly condemned these despicable acts and all kinds of terrorism.
Let me quote the President of the French Council of Muslims and President of the French Muslim associations: « we must say it over and over again, these acts have nothing to do with Islam but in the same time we must not be in denial when misinterpretation of the texts is used as a justification. It is up to us to insist that such interpretations are distorted and are based on koranic verses taken out of context ».
This week a mass was celebrated at Notre-Dame of Paris and attended by more than one thousand people including the mayor of Paris and the Speaker of the Parliament. For the first time as a symbol of pride, courage and unity, the National Anthem was played on the Great Organ.
We will end this ceremony by the national anthems of our two proud and free nations, Botswana and France.