The event was organised by Hadrien Lopez, a Brighton bartender originally from Nice, who wanted to show support for his fellow countrymen and women in the aftermath of the attacks whilst also remembering those who lost their lives. Approximately 75 people attended the solemn service outside the town hall, battling the wind and rain to pay their respects. Mr Lopez, 23, led the crowd in a minute’s silence before saying a few words to honour the victims and then invited others present to address the crowd. The French national anthem, la Marseillaise, was then sung. The end of the event was marked with the laying of a bouquet of flowers and the lighting of candles in front of the town hall to form a temporary memorial.
Paul Bonhomme, a second year Medical student at Sussex, also laid a heartfelt handwritten message in French which read “France is strong and even if it’s been hurt, she will stand back up and nothing will touch her.” Bonhomme, who is from Paris, has a personal connection to the attacks as his father lost one friend in the shootings whilst another was in an unknown condition at the time of the commemoration. The event in Brighton organised by Mr Lopez was just one of many memorial services that have been held around the world to remember the victims of the attacks carried out by members of the Islamic State (IS) terrorist group in Paris on the night of 13-14 November.
Nine gunmen attacked targets across the city with suicide bombings taking place at the Stade de France followed by shootings at cafes and bars in the city’s 10th and 11th arrondissements, culminating in a hostage taking and mass shooting at the Bataclan theatre during a rock concert. In total 129 people were killed. As of 17 November a massive manhunt is underway for the one attacker still believed to be on the run. He is suspected of being in Belgium. Over 115,000 soldiers and police have been mobilised in France to provide security during the country’s state of emergency which may last as long as three months.
In the wake of the atrocities famous landmarks across the globe were lit up in the colours of the Tricolore to show solidarity with France whilst many nations held a minute’s silence on Monday 16 November. Far from being cowed by the attacks France’s leader Francois Hollande has vowed to destroy IS and has ordered the country’s military to step up its campaign in Iraq and Syria. He is also pursuing changes to the country’s constitution to make it easier to combat terrorism within France’s borders. Russia has also stepped up its airstrikes against IS in Syria after confirming that the airliner brought down in Egypt last month was an act of terror potentially perpetrated by the Sinai Peninsula branch of Islamic State.
The bombing of Flight 9268 killed all 224 passengers and crew. In the UK Prime Minister David Cameron has said that IS poses a “direct and growing threat” that must be dealt with. In the coming weeks he is expected to make another push in the House of Commons for a vote that would allow for British military action in Syria. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn once again encountered criticism from the Labour Party after initially opposing the government’s shoot-to-kill policy regarding terrorists, calling it “dangerous” and “counterproductive.” He later reversed his position after many of his own MPs voiced their displeasure at his remarks.