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A Year After Charlie Hebdo Attacks, France Commemorates Terrorism Victims

President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled a plaque in memory of the victims at the base of an oak tree planted at the Place de la Republique in Paris, a square that has become a symbol of French solidarity since the attacks.
President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled a plaque in memory of the victims at the base of an oak tree planted at the Place de la Republique in Paris, a square that has become a symbol of French solidarity since the attacks.
By RFE/RL

Several thousand people have gathered in the French capital to honor the almost 150 people killed in terrorist attacks last year in the Paris area.

President Francois Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo unveiled a plaque on January 10 in memory of the victims at the base of an oak tree planted at the Place de la Republique in Paris, a square that has become a symbol of French solidarity since the attacks.

French rocker Johnny Hallyday performed a song and the army's choir gave an emotional rendition of France's national anthem, the Marseillaise.

The ceremony was part of a weekend of events marking the first anniversary of deadly attacks on a Jewish market and on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

The event also commemorated the 130 people who were killed in coordinated attacks on a rock concert, cafes, a stadium, and elsewhere in Paris on November 13.

The attacks were claimed by extremists linked to the Islamic State militant group.

French authorities have since introduced stringent security measures, including a state of emergency.

But many questions remain about the November 13 violence, including how many people were involved and may still be at large.

At least one gunman, identified as Salah Abdeslam, is on the loose after initially crossing into Belgium one day after the rampage.

The low-key memorial event was a far cry from the massive rally that drew 4 million peoples and dozens of world leaders on January 11, 2015 -- the biggest demonstration on French soil since the end of World War II.

Following the ceremony, Hollande made an unannounced visit to the main mosque in Paris in a bid to ease anti-Muslim sentiment.

Mosques all over France opened up to the public during the weekend for what French Muslim leaders hope will highlight the differences between extremist militants and moderate Islam.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve also visited a mosque on January 9.

He called for "the engagement of all Muslims in France" and warned that "the self-proclaimed preachers of hate" in mosques would be punished severely.

With reporting by AP, AFP, Reuters, and BBC

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