French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner paid homage on Wednesday in Strasbourg to the victims of the terror attack that claimed five lives and left an entire town in shock one year ago to the day.
“One year ago, hate struck” and “innocent people were cut down (…) by fundamentalism and barbarity,” he said at a ceremony held in the pouring rain at the Place de la Republique, next to the historic centre where Cherif Chekatt, a serial delinquent on the police radar as an Islamic radical, perpetrated his deadly acts on 11 December 2018.
“You were a bit of our humanity; you were of all ages and you came from the four corners of the Earth,” Castaner said as he paid homage to each of the five people who died in the attack.
“The 11th of December will never be the date of hate, it will be the date of memory, of the memory of the values, passions and combat (of these) five men,” the minister stressed, adding that he was “proud that joy has once again taken over the Strasbourg Christmas Market,” which is celebrating its 450th anniversary.
During the ceremony, a “tree-of-life” oak was also planted, and a stele inaugurated.
Castaner was later scheduled to hold a closed-doors meeting with victims, decorate seven of the police officers who intervened during the attack with the Legion of Honour and the Order of Merit, and award the Homeland Security Medal to 55 members of the police, gendarme, military and rescue services who also intervened.
The day’s programme further included an ecumenical and multicultural homage to the victims, organised in the evening at the Strasbourg Cathedral, with a succession of Arab-Andalusian, Hebrew and Buddhist chants, readings and speeches.
At 7:45 PM local time, all churches in the city and neighbouring communes were scheduled to ring their bells for 15 long minutes, while residents were asked by the municipality to place lit candles at their windows.