France leads world in silent tribute for Paris victims

16th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

France led a minute's silence observed around the world on Monday in memory of the victims of the worst-ever terror attacks on French soil.

President Francois Hollande and his cabinet, all dressed in black, bowed their heads at the Sorbonne University in Paris, surrounded by scores of students.

And at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday's attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people killed in the bloodbath.

Large crowds also gathered in silence by the Bataclan music venue where 89 of the victims died, and outside a nearby bar and restaurant where 15 people were slain, AFP correspondents said.

At the G20 summit in Turkey, the seven EU leaders present -- David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Matteo Renzi, Mariano Rajoy, Laurent Fabius, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker -- observed the minute of silence in front of the main entrance.

The EU and French flags were both decorated with a black ribbon, while around 100 journalists took part in the tribute in the press centre at the European Commission building in Brussels.

In Britain, the Houses of Parliament rang a bell on the stroke of 11:00 am (1100 GMT) as members fell silent and Union Jack flags on all government buildings flew at half-mast.

The England football team, due to play France in a friendly match on Tuesday, broke off training in Enfield, north of London, to pay tribute.

- Bells fall silent -

In front of London's majestic St Paul's Cathedral, tourists and passers-by stopped in their tracks to honour the dead as hundreds more paid their respects in Trafalgar Square.

Some carried makeshift posters reading "Je Suis Paris" and "Stand up against Terrorism in the World", while a woman serenaded the crowd with Edith Piaf songs.

Shoppers in Britain's main cities collected in public squares to reflect on Friday's events while offices and shops across the country fell silent.

Shortly after observing the tribute, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said the alliance stood "in strong solidarity with the government and the people of France in their unwavering determination to deal with the terrorist threat."

In Madrid, a hundred lawmakers paid tribute on the steps outside parliament as a nearby trumpeter played the Marseillaise.

In the city's Atocha station, the scene of bombings that killed 191 people in March 2004, about 50 people gathered, while some 300 people marked the event in front of City Hall.

In Berlin, a crowd hundreds-strong collected outside the French embassy -- next to the Brandenburg Gate -- where thousands of bouquets have been left.

Hundreds also gathered in Amsterdam's historic Dam Square, while in The Hague, the Dutch flag flew at half-mast in front of parliament.

Young people paying their respects in Rome held hands and wept as a musician played "La Vie en Rose" on an accordion.

In Sweden, government officials observed the event and main squares in some cities fell silent.

Norway's parliament also observed the silence, while in Copenhagen, the bells of the City Hall did not chime at midday.

Outside of Europe, almost 500 people observed the silence at the French school in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Ivory Coast Prime Minister Daniel Kablan Duncan and a dozen government ministers marked the event at the French embassy in Abidjan

"This is a terrible tragedy," he said. "The French people are friends of Ivory Coast, and when your friends are in distress, you cannot help but feel their pain."

The French embassies in Vienna, Prague, Havana, Kabul and Mexico City all observed the silence, as did the French schools in Ouagadougou and Rio de Janeiro.

"We decided to go with our children to show our solidarity with the city of Paris and the Parisians, it is a city that we love," said Pablo Libreros, 37, in Rio de Janeiro.

"It is important to come together and show we're not afraid."

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© 2015 AFP

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