Saturday marks two years since 12 people were killed at the offices of satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, by two brothers claiming to be acting on behalf of al Qaeda.
It was the first in a series of terror attacks that have left France reeling – and the public increasingly worried about security ahead of April’s presidential election.
CGTN’s Elena Casas reports from Paris.
France marks 2nd anniversary of Charlie Hebdo killingsSaturday marks two years since 12 people were killed at the offices of satirical news magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris, by two brothers claiming to be acting on behalf of al Qaeda.
On January 7th 2015, two Islamist gunmen burst into the offices of the French satire weekly.
The attackers, Said and Cherif Kouachi, were killed in a stand off with police two days later after a massive manhunt.
The shooting left France reeling – and brought one and a half million people out onto the streets to defend freedom of speech, the biggest public gathering in France since the liberation of Paris from the Nazis in 1945.
That spirit of solidarity and defiance has given way to an edgy nervousness – as a series of terrorist attacks across France have since killed more than 200 people.
The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and interior minister Bruno le Roux left flowers for the victims at the site of Charlie Hebdo’s old offices on Thursday – but politicians are increasingly under fire for their handling of France’s security.
The country has been under a state of emergency since ISIL members killed 130 people in a series of attacks in Paris in November 2015 – that gives police enhanced powers that critics say are being used to restrict civil liberties – while failing to prevent terrorism.
“We have for example the prohibition of public meetings and of various university events – and this plays into the hands of the terrorists we are meant to be fighting, because they say in their online propoaganda that they don’t just want to kill people, but to destroy democracy and the rule of law in the West, and that’s exactly what’s happening in France,” said Yasser Louati of the Collective Against Islamophobia,
This hard line security policy is associated above all with Manuel Valls – who resigned as prime minister in November to run for the presidency.
Valls staked his political career on a promise to keep France safe – but his stance alienated many on the left.
He faces a primary vote for the ruling socialist party抯 nomination at the end of January – with polls showing the government is so unpopular that whoever the PS candidate, they are likely to be knocked out in the first round of April’s election.