Bataclan reopens for Sting in emotional night in Paris

Almost a year to the day since 90 music lovers were gunned down by jihadists inside the Bataclan concert hall, the venue reopened on Saturday with the owners saying the show must go on.

Bataclan reopens for Sting in emotional night in Paris

Concert goers returned to the Bataclan music hall in Paris on Saturday night for the first time since last November's Paris terror attacks.

The venue opened its doors for a concert by British rocker Sting, the first musician to take to the stage since Eagles of Death Metal, whose gig was targeted by jihadist gunmen, wearing suicide vests.

The took place amid tight security with a huge area around the venue cordoned off. There was also a huge media presence outside the venue.

Families of the victims and those who were there on the night of the attack to watch the Eagles of Death Metal, were also invited as special guests as well as fans of the rock star, who came on stage at 9pm.

“We have two tasks: to honour victims who lost their lives and to honour music and life,” said Sting as he took to the Stage. A minute silence was held for the victims followed by loud applause.

Some 1,500 people were expected at the gig, which sold out within 30 minutes last week. All proceeds will go to two victims associations representing survivors and the family of those who died.

Didier Delalande, from Rennes told The Local he had come to the Bataclan to remember his friend's sister Caroline Prenat, 24, who was killed at the venue last year.

“It will be emotional but we are here in a show of strength in her memory,” he said. “I'm happy to be here but I'm also scared at the same time, because of our thoughts for the victims.

“But music is stronger than anything.”

Psychologists were on hand at the Bataclan to help the survivors and families of the victims if needed.

Another concert goer Umberto, an Italian who lives in Paris told The Local: “We will cry, we will dance and we will cry again.”

Georges Salines the head of the victims association “13th November – Fraternity and Truth”, who lost his daughter Lola in the attacks said: “It's important this venue reopens to show that we are standing up to the terrorists who tried to destabilize our lives.” 

The Bataclan was ravaged by three suicide blasts as well as the bullets unleashed by the attackers, firing systematically into the crowd as an ordinary Friday night descended into carnage.

The carnage inside the Bataclan claimed 90 victims. Another 40 people died in attacks on bars, restaurants and at the Stade de France in the deadliest attack in France since World War Two.

The interior of the former 19th-century music hall has now been gutted during eight months of refurbishment works.

Everything from the seats to the floorboards were replaced with identical fittings to purge the horror of that fateful night.


Co-director Jules Frutos (see pic below) told AFP that they had had their doubts and “for some time it was difficult”.

“But then, after a few weeks it was clear. We had to go on after such horror and not leave a mausoleum, a tomb,” said Frutos.

“One night of tragedy” should not be allowed to wipe out decades of great musical memories, he insisted.

“We owed it to ourselves to rebuild everything. It was obvious that it had to be rebuilt identically,” added Frutos, who has managed the venue with his business partner Olivier Poubelle since 2004.

“It's important we didn't change it as a venue, its past — that's why people loved it. One night of tragedy mustn't overshadow decades of parties and music,” he said.

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Historic trial begins in Paris over November 2015 terror attacks

The biggest trial in France's modern legal history begins on Wednesday over the November 2015 attacks on Paris that saw 130 people killed at bars, restaurants, the Stade de France and the Bataclan concert hall.

Historic trial begins in Paris over November 2015 terror attacks
A memorial to the 130 victims of the November 13th attacks in Paris. Photo: Thomas Coex/AFP

The suicide bombing and gun assault by three teams of jihadists, planned from Syria and later claimed by the Islamic State group, was France’s worst post-war atrocity.

The only surviving attacker, Salah Abdeslam, will be in the dock at the purpose-built facility at the historic court of justice on the Île de la Cité in central Paris, along with 13 other defendants.

Six others are being tried in absentia. Twelve of the 20 people on trial, including Abdeslam, face life sentences if convicted.

“We are entering the unknown,” said Arthur Denouveaux, a survivor of the Bataclan music venue attack and president of Life for Paris, a victims’ association. “We can’t wait for it to start, but we’re asking, How will it be for the next nine months?”

The trial will last until May 2022, with 145 days for hearings involving about 330 lawyers, 300 victims and former president François Hollande, who will testify in November.

The case file runs to a million pages in 542 volumes, measuring 53 metres across.

Justice Minister Eric Dupond-Moretti this week described the trial as “historic” and “one of all superlatives” as he inspected the courtroom.

Surviving gunman Abdeslam, now 31, who was born in Belgium but has French and Moroccan nationality, fled the scene of the carnage after abandoning his suicide belt, which investigators later found to be defective.

He was captured four months later in Brussels, hiding in a building close to his family home.

Abdeslam has resolutely refused to cooperate with the French investigation and remained largely silent throughout a separate trial in Belgium in 2018, where he declared only that he put his “trust in Allah” and that the court was biased.

A major question is whether he will speak at his scheduled testimony, set for mid-January.

Another focus of the trial will be on how the squad of killers managed to enter France undetected, allegedly using the flow of migrants from Islamic State-controlled regions of Syria as cover.

Fourteen of the accused – who face charges ranging from providing logistical support to planning the attacks as well as weapons offences – are expected to be present in court.

They include a Swedish national, Osama Krayem, who Belgian investigators have identified as one of the killers of a Jordanian pilot burned alive in a cage by Isis in early 2015 in Syria. He is also under investigation in Sweden for war crimes.

The alleged coordinator, Belgian national Abdelhamid Abaaoud, was killed by French police northeast of Paris five days after the attacks.

Of the six tried in absentia, five are presumed dead, mainly in air strikes in Syria.

The horror was unleashed late on the night of Friday, November 13th, when jihadists detonated suicide belts outside the Stade de France stadium where Hollande was in the crowd watching France play a football match against Germany. One man was killed there.

A group of Islamist gunmen, including Abdeslam’s brother Brahim, later opened fire from a car on half a dozen restaurants in the trendy 10th and 11th Arrondissements of the capital, which were packed with people on the balmy autumn evening.

The massacre culminated at the Bataclan music venue. Three jihadists stormed in during a performance, killing a total of 90 people.

While the trial’s initial phase will be devoted to procedural issues, testimonies are expected to begin on September 28th from some 300 survivors and relatives of victims for five weeks of harrowing statements.

Security forces will be on high alert.