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TERRORISM

Eiffel Tower to go dark for St Petersburg victims after Paris mayor comes under pressure

The mayor of Paris came under pressure to explain why the Eiffel Tower did not pay its usual respects to the victims of Monday's terror attack in St Petersburg as it did for those killed in London, Orlando and Brussels. She then announced the Iron Lady would dim her lights on Tuesday night.

Eiffel Tower to go dark for St Petersburg victims after Paris mayor comes under pressure
Photo: AFP

In recent months Paris has chosen to pay pay homage to the victims of terror attacks and show solidarity with those countries or communities targeted by turning to the Iron Lady.

The images below show the famous Paris monument either switched off or lit up in the colours of a country to mark the victims of terror attacks throughout the world.

The most recent being last month's London attack when lights were dimmed that night.

And the Eiffel Tower also paid tribute to those killed in the Brussels bombings in March last year by lighting up in the colours of the Belgian flag.

And it was illuminated in the colours of the rainbow flag in honour of the victims killed at the gay nightclub in Orlando last year. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo tweeted out the message with the hashtag #lovewins.

But Hidalgo came under pressure on Tuesday, at least from some angry social media users, to explain why the Eiffel Tower did not pay homage to the 14 people killed in Monday's metro bombing in the Russian city of St Petersburg.

“Why no Russian flag on the Eiffel Tower? Do some deaths count more than others?” said one tweeter, summing up many of the tweets sent in the direction of Paris City Hall and Mayor Hidalgo.

Some accused Paris's Socialist mayor of being a “Russiaphobe”

Far right National Front councillor Gabriel de Payrecave whose party leader Marine Le Pen has forged close ties with Vladimir Putin said: “Mrs Hidalgo, no support, no solidarity for Russia after the attack?”

Paris City Hall did not responded to a request for an explanation from The Local but then Hidalgo announced that after all the Iron Lady would pay her respects.

The lack of a tribute had been noticed by Russian state media site Russia Today, which published an article on the lack of tributes in certain countries.

The row in Paris echoed a similar row in Berlin where authorities also declined to stage their usual tribute to the victims in St Petersburg.

While the famous Brandenburg Gate has lit up in the colours of the flags of the UK, Israel, Turkey and France before, there was no Russian flag beamed onto the monument on Monday night.

A spokesperson for the Berlin Senate explained that the city had decided to only light up the famous structure for terrorist victims in “partner cities” of Berlin, or in exceptional cases.

Yet many pointed out that Orlando is not a partner city yet the Brandenburg Gate still paid a colourful tribute to those killed in the nightclub terror attack.

 

 

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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