Paris: A solemn ceremony was held Thursday for the victims of the Paris attacks, with President Francois Hollande vowing that France would respond to the “army of fanatics” with more songs, concerts and shows.
“We will not give in either to fear or to hate,” said Hollande in the courtyard of the Invalides buildings in central Paris, speaking to 2,000 dignitaries and those injured in the violence.
“To all of you, I solemnly promise that France will do everything to destroy the army of fanatics that committed these crimes,” he said.
The ceremony began with the president’s arrival on a cold and misty day to the sound of the national anthem La Marseillaise being played by the Republican Guard.
Photos of the 130 people killed in the attacks of November 13 played on a black screen, while singers gave a stirring rendition of the classic ballad “Quand on n’a que l’amour” (“When All We Have Is Love”) by Belgian songwriter Jacques Brel.
Hollande said “130 destinies had been stolen, 130 laughs that will never be heard again,” adding that they had come from more than 50 places in France and 17 countries.
The majority of the victims were under 35 years old, he said, highlighting that the attacks targeted popular nightlife areas of the French capital, including bars, restaurants and a concert hall.
“It’s because they represented life that they were killed, it’s because they represented France that they were slaughtered, it’s because they represented freedom that they were massacred,” he said.
Among the crowd were some of the 350 people injured in the attacks, many in wheelchairs.
The coordinated suicide bomb and gun attacks on bars and restaurants, a concert hall and the Stade de France stadium two weeks ago were the worst ever terror attacks on French soil.
They were claimed by the Islamic State group, and have been described as a declaration of war by Hollande.
The attackers acted “in the name of an insane cause and a betrayed God,” said Hollande.
He said France would respond to the attacks with more “songs, concerts and shows. We will continue to go to stadiums.”