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TERRORISM

Priest sorry for saying band ‘inspired by Satan’

A French priest apologised on Sunday for a homily in which he said the Eagles of Death Metal concert that was attacked by jihadists in Paris last month was "inspired by Satan".

Priest sorry for saying band 'inspired by Satan'
Members of the rock group Eagles of Death Metal arrive at the Bataclan to pay tribute to the victims of the November 13 Paris terrorist attacks. Photo: Miguel Medina

“I regret fuelling a controversy about some musical genres. It was completely inappropriate and indecent,” Francois Schneider told his parishioners in the town of Wissembach in northeastern France, according to his diocese.

Shortly after Islamic State jihadists attacked Paris on November 13, Schneider criticised the band playing at the Bataclan concert hall where 90 people were killed.

A total of 130 people died on the night of horror in the French capital, where a team of nine known attackers targeted the national stadium, restaurants and bars as well as the Bataclan.

Members of Schneider's congregation complained to his diocese. 

“Sometimes we are overwhelmed when faced with the diversity and strangeness of some artistic expressions,” the priest said.

In a similar case, a priest from the eastern city of Lyon was removed from duty after saying that those who died at the Bataclan were the “Siamese twins” of their murderers.

Despite its name, the American rock band Eagles of Death Metal does not play death metal but rather a hard-charging garage rock.

They are known for loud guitars, a heavy rhythm section and tongue-in-cheek humour.

“The 'death metal' side is ironic. If they have songs that speak of the devil, it's the devil from cartoons,” said Jean-Pierre Sabouret, a rock music journalist who survived the attack by hiding for several hours.

“To say that Eagles of Death Metal are a Satanic or metal group would be as idiotic as saying that Mozart played jazz,” he told AFP last month.

 

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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