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PARIS TERROR ATTACKS

TERRORISM

Twitter disgust over ‘I am Kouachi’ hashtag

Twitter users in France have called on the social network to act after supporters of the terrorists started using the hashtag #JeSuisKouachi (‘I am Kouachi’). However, the popularity of the hashtag was boosted when appalled opponents also started using it.

Twitter disgust over 'I am Kouachi' hashtag
The Kouachi brothers, responsible for terrorist attacks in Paris this week.

The hashtag is named after terrorists Saïd and Chérif Kouachi and apes the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag that emerged in the wake of Wednesday’s murder of 12 people at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

Many of those who initially used the pro-Kouachi hashtag were tweeting support for the terrorists, many in French, others in English and Arabic.

One said in English: “No matter how good your General is , you just can not win against people who desire death as you desire life.” Another tweeted, in French: “I am a Muslim and Kouachi represents me.”

Hashtags – words or phrases prefaced by the hash sign – enable people interested in a topic to find other people tweeting about the same thing.

By Friday, with the hashtag trending, typing ‘je suis’ into Twitter automatically brought up ‘Kouachi’ as a suggestion. However, by Friday it seemed that most of those using #JeSuisKouachi, far from supporting the terrorists were expressing disgust – with the perhaps unintended effect of pushing it up the Twitter rankings. None of the first ten results The Local brought up expressed support for the terrorists.

And despite this week's strong demonstrations of support for freedom of speech following the attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, some on Twitter argued that this should not apply to supporters of terror: This user called on Twitter to block use of the tag:

Others expressing outrage included National Front vice president Florian Philippot and Marion Maréchal le Pen, MP and niece of the party’s leader Marine le Pen: ‘JeSuisKouachi is trending on Twitter and people say nothing, do nothing? But where do they live?’

Others used it to mock the presumed extremists behind the accounts for helping the police identify them. ‘Big up to the people preaching hate at #JeSuisKouachi and leaving themselves open to geo-location. Thanks for helping out!

Others noticed the irony of boosting a hashtag they wanted to denounce, but still found it hard to follow their own advice. The tweet below says ‘Fortunately, after verifying, almost all the tweets with #JeSuisKouachi are denouncing it! Stop talking about it to stop it!’:

TERRORISM

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks

US Vice President Kamala Harris and French Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths at a Paris cafe and France's national football stadium Saturday six years since deadly terror attacks that left 130 people dead.

US vice president lays wreaths at site of 2015 Paris terror attacks
US Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff lay flowers after ceremonies at Le Carillon bar and Le Petit Cambodge restaurant, at which 130 people were killed during the 2015 Paris terror attacks. Photo: Sarahbeth Maney/POOL/AFP

The attacks by three separate teams of Islamic State group jihadists on the night of November 13, 2015 were the worst in France since World War II.

Gunmen mowed down 129 people in front of cafes and at a concert hall in the capital, while a bus driver was killed after suicide bombers blew themselves up at the gates of the stadium in its suburbs.

Harris, wrapping up a four-day trip to France, placed a bouquet of white flowers in front of a plaque honouring the victims outside a Paris cafe.

Castex attended a minute of silence at the Stade de France football stadium, along with Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, before laying wreaths at the sites of the other attacks inside Paris.

In front of the Bataclan concert hall, survivors and relatives of the victims listened to someone read out the names of each of the 90 people killed during a concert there six years ago.

Public commemorations of the tragedy were called off last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Last year we weren’t allowed to come and we all found it really tough,” said Bruno Poncet, who made it out alive of the Bataclan.

But he said the start of a trial over the attacks in September meant that those attending the commemoration this year felt more united.

‘Overcome it all’

“We’ve really bonded thanks to the trial,” he said. “During previous commemorations, we’d spot each other from afar without really daring to speak to each other. We were really shy. But standing up in court has really changed everything.”

The marathon trial, the biggest in France’s modern legal history, is expected to last until May 2022.

Twenty defendants are facing sentences of up to life in prison, including the sole attacker who was not gunned down by police, Salah Abdeslam, a French-Moroccan national who was captured in Brussels. Six of the defendants are being tried in absentia.

Poncet said he felt it was crucial that he attend the hearings. “I can’t possibly not. It’s our lives that are being discussed in that room, and it’s important to come to support the others and to try to overcome it all.”

Survivors have taken to the witness stand to recount the horror of the attacks, but also to describe life afterwards.

Several said they had been struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder, grappling with survivor’s guilt, or even feeling alienated from the rest of society.

Saturday’s commemorations are to wrap up with a minute of silence at the Stade de France in the evening before the kick-off for a game between France and Kazakhstan.

It was during a football match between France and Germany that three suicide bombers blew themselves up in 2015.

Then-French president Francois Hollande was one of the 80,000 people in the crowd, before he was discreetly whisked away to avoid triggering mass panic.

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