Last January was a black time in the City of Lights.
This week some light is returning to Paris.
On the first anniversary of the series of terrorist attacks in the French capital that took a total of 17 lives, the country is pausing this week to remember the tragedy and honor the victims’ memories.
French President Francoise Hollande and other political leaders are participating this week in memorial ceremonies at the sites where French citizens — Jews, Muslims and Christians among them — lost their lives to Islamic extremists. Hollande unveiled plaques at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, at the former offices of the Charlie Hebdo satire magazine, and at the street corners where two police officers were shot to death.
A French soldier, above, stands guard outside Hyper Cacher; as a plaque is being installed behind him.
In the year since the killing spree, France has upgraded its security at likely targets, nearly 8,000 French Jews have made aliyah, Hyper Cacher has undergone a full renovation, and life has slowly returned to normal for many of the Jews who remain in France.
“It took me six months to be able to come back,” one Hyper Cacher customer told Agence France-Presse.
Another member of the 500,000-strong French Jewish community called the attacks “a real breaking point.”
“I don’t feel safe here anymore. As Jews, we are a preferred target, in a country which itself is a target,” the person added. “Now we know we can be killed while doing our grocery shopping, or walking in the street.”
Commemorations are scheduled this week at Paris’ police headquarters and at the Place de la Republique, and spontaneous demonstrations, featuring flowers and candles and moments of silence, are expected.
Hollande is to attend an event this week sponsored by CRIF, France’s major umbrella Jewish organization.