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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 September 2018

Emmanuel Macron leads tribute to victims of Paris terrorist attacks

The French president lays a wreath in front of the former offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo

French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo observe a minute of silence outside the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's former office, to mark the third anniversary of the attack. REUTERS/Christophe Ena/Pool
French President Emmanuel Macron and Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo observe a minute of silence outside the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo's former office, to mark the third anniversary of the attack. REUTERS/Christophe Ena/Pool

French President Emmanuel Macron led a sombre tribute on Sunday to the 17 victims of attacks in Paris three years ago that marked the first of a wave of deadly Islamist assaults in France.

During a three-day killing spree in January 2015, gunmen killed reporters and illustrators at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, police officers and shoppers at a Jewish supermarket.

Sunday's commemoration started at the former premises of Charlie Hebdo, where two brothers armed with assault rifles shot and swearing allegiance to Al Qaeda killed 11, including most of the notoriously irreverent publication's cartoonists and writers. The attack was prompted by the magazine’s coverage of Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

The names of the victims were read out before wreathes were laid in front of the office building, including one by Macron and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Homage was then paid at the nearby site where a policeman was shot dead at point-blank range by one of the gunmen. A similar tribute was later held at the kosher store where a third gunman killed four people.

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The Charlie Hebdo attack was carried out by brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi, who died in a police assault two days later. The perpetrator of the attack on the Jewish store, Amedy Coulibaly, also shot dead a policewoman in a separate incident. Coulbaly was also killed by police

Charlie Hebdo is now produced in a secret location and the magazine spends up to $1.8 million every year on security, according to its publisher. After an initial wave of global support following the attacks, revenues are down to a third of 2015 levels.

Its staff still receive death threats and has continued to court controversy with its cartoons including one about Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian washed up on a beach in Turkey, which suggested he would grow up to be a sexual abuser.

Another graphic image in November featured the Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, who has been accused of sexually assaulting women. Its cartoons also target politicians and other religions.

“The 7th of January 2015 propelled us into a new world of armed police, secure entrances and reinforced doors, of fear and death,” wrote contributor Fabrice Nicolino in its most recent edition. “And this in the heart of Paris and in conditions which do not honour the French republic. Do we still have a laugh? Yes.”

The magazine began selling in Germany in 2016 – featuring unflattering images of Chancellor Angela Merkel – but the edition closed after a year.

France has been hit by a series of attacks since the Charlie Hebdo killings, including a series of coordinated attacks in Paris in November 2015 which left 129 dead.

In July 2016, 85 people were killed when they were mowed down by a terrorist driving a truck in Nice.

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