France to protect all religions, vows Francois Hollande

  • 15 January 2015
  • From the section Europe
Media captionPresident Hollande: "Muslims are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance"

French President Francois Hollande has vowed that his country will protect all religions, saying that Muslims are the main victims of fanaticism.

Speaking at the Arab World Institute, he said Islam was compatible with democracy and thanked Arabs for their solidarity over terrorism in Paris.

Attacks on Charlie Hebdo magazine, a Jewish supermarket and a policewoman killed 17 people last week.

Funeral ceremonies for several of the victims are being held.

Among them are two of Charlie Hebdo's best known cartoonists, Bernard Verlhac - known as Tignous - and Georges Wolinski.

There are also funerals taking place for Charlie Hebdo columnist Elsa Cayat and Franck Brinsolaro, a policeman assigned to guard Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier.

'Obligation to protect'

Speaking on Thursday morning, Mr Hollande said the French were united in the face of terror.

"French Muslims have the same rights as all other French," he said. "We have the obligation to protect them.

"Anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic acts have to be condemned and punished."

Mr Hollande said that radical Islam had fed off contradictions, poverty, inequality and conflict, and that "it is Muslims who are the first victims of fanaticism, fundamentalism and intolerance".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The coffin of Bernard Verlhac, known as Tignous, was covered in drawings and messages
Image copyright AFP
Image caption One of those being buried was Franck Brinsolaro, a police officer assigned to protect Charlie Hebdo's editor
Image copyright AFP
Image caption Charlie Hebdo columnist Elsa Cayat was being buried in Montparnasse cemetery

France has deployed thousands of troops and police to boost security in the wake of last week's attacks. There have been retaliatory attacks against Muslim sites around France.

Charlie Hebdo published a new edition on Wednesday, with an image on the cover showing the Prophet Muhammad weeping while holding a sign saying "I am Charlie", and below the headline "All is forgiven".

Mr Hollande declared Charlie Hebdo magazine "reborn" after the magazine sold out in hours.

'Big hug'

But some Muslims were angered by the edition and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu condemned it on Thursday as an "open provocation".

"Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to insult," said Mr Davutoglu, who on Sunday attended a Paris march in memory of the victims of last week's attacks.

"We are determined to protect the honour of the Prophet the same way as we are determined in our stance against terrorism in Paris."

Turkish daily Cumhuriyet and Turkish websites have published images of the Charlie Hebdo cartoon.

In Pakistan on Thursday, lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution condemning the publication of the images, state-run TV reported.

In Germany, Chancellor Merkel addressed a special session of parliament to commemorate the victims of last week's attacks.

She said there was no place for violence and discrimination in Germany and the country would not be divided by attacks against people of any faith.

"Hate preachers, violent delinquents who act in the name of Islam, those behind them, and the intellectual arsonists of international terrorism will be rigorously fought with all legal means at the disposal of the state," she said.

Pope Francis, travelling to the Philippines, said freedom of religion and expression were "fundamental human rights" but that "you cannot insult the faith of others".

US Secretary of State John Kerry is due to meet Mr Hollande in the French capital on Friday.

Ahead of the trip, he said: "My visit to France is basically to share a big hug with Paris."

How the attacks unfolded (all times GMT)

  • Wednesday 7 January 10:30 - Two masked gunmen enter Charlie Hebdo offices, killing 11 people, including the magazine's editor. Shortly after the attack, the gunmen kill a police officer nearby.
  • 11:00 - Police lose track of the men after they abandon their getaway car and hijack another vehicle. They are later identified as brothers Said and Cherif Kouachi.
  • Thursday 8 January 08:45 - A lone gunman shoots dead a policewoman and injures a man in the south of Paris. Gunman later identified as Amedy Coulibaly.
  • 10:30 - The Kouachi brothers rob a service station near Villers-Cotterets, in the Aisne region, but disappear again.
  • Friday 9 January 08:30 - Police exchange gunfire with the Kouachi brothers during a car chase on the National 2 highway northeast of Paris.
  • 10:00 - Police surround the brothers at an industrial building in at Dammartin-en-Goele, 35km (22 miles) from Paris.
  • 12:15 - Coulibaly reappears and takes several people hostage at a kosher supermarket in eastern Paris. Heavily armed police arrive and surround the store.
  • 16:00 - Kouachi brothers come out of the warehouse, firing at police. They are both shot dead.
  • 16:15 - Police storm the kosher supermarket in Paris, killing Coulibaly and rescuing 15 hostages. The bodies of four hostages are recovered.

Three days of terror

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