Belfast Telegraph

Michael D Higgins attends minute's silence at French embassy in Dublin

Several hundred people attended a minute's silence at the French embassy in Dublin where President Michael D Higgins called for people not to fall into the terrorists' trap.

Led by French ambassador to Ireland Jean Pierre Thebault, the President joined Dr Muhammad Umar Al-Qadri, Sunni Imam of the Al-Mustafa Islamic Centre in Blanchardstown, and Shia Imam Dr Ali al-Saleh of Milltown Mosque to pay their respects.

"We are here as well of course on this day in solidarity with the people of France and the people of Paris - a France and Paris that has always, through so many difficult periods of history, opened its doors to those people who are making the case for freedom and emancipation, for all of the important values of humanity," the President said.

"I think it is very important at this time, as well, that we not just indicate our solidarity in favour of those values but that we renew if you like our resolution not to fall into the fear, or fall into the insecurities, divisions or suspicions that it is the intention of terrorists to create."

President Higgins said there was a shared grief at attacks on moments of celebration of music and sport.

"We celebrate what we share together," he said.

The President and his wife Sabina signed a book of condolences after the crowd sang La Marseillaise outside the embassy on Merrion Square.

Ambassador Thebault said the attacks felt like losing a member of "our families".

"They were victims because they wanted to live freely," he said.

Mr Thebault said the solidarity shown by hundreds who gathered to mark the minute's silence would help prevent a repeat of the attack "by saying a strong no to the terrorists, no to terror, yes to freedom and yes to life".

The Irish Tricolour was also flying at half mast over State buildings as a mark of respect.

The tributes coincided with the UN International Day of Tolerance.

Thousands of people marched in Dublin on Saturday in a mark of solidarity with France while smaller gatherings were held in Galway and Cork where other books of condolences were also opened.

Dr Umar, who laid a wreath of white flowers at the front of the embassy, said the presence of Muslim leaders at the event was to send a strong message to their own followers and the terrorists.

"A message first of all to our communities that we are all united," he said.

"The second is to the terrorists that no matter what you try we will not let you win."

Dr Umar revealed three Irish Muslim teenagers - among 30 who left Ireland to fight in Syria last year - have been killed.

"The challenge that we are facing as a Muslim community is that these atrocities are committed in the name of our religion," he said.

"In fact they do not represent any faith. They are just using faith as an excuse."

An Irishman wounded in the attack on the Bataclan concert venue is said to be in a stable condition in hospital.


From Belfast Telegraph