Saturday

6th Jun 2020

MEPs commemorate victims of French attacks

  • Members of the European Parliament take a moment of silence to remember the victims of terror attacks in France (Photo: European Parliament)

Leaders of anti-establishment parties in the European Parliament have criticised the EU's immigration policies in the wake of the terrorist attacks in France, as protesters of the Pegida-movement in Germany took to the streets again on Monday (12 January).

The European Parliament opened its plenary session in Strasbourg this week with a minute of silence to commemorate the victims of terrorist attacks in France last week.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

It was the first plenary since France was shocked by an assaults on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket in Paris.

Several MEPs had put up placards on their desks saying “Je suis Charlie” or wore T-shirts with the text, which has become a sign of solidarity with victims.

EP president Martin Schulz read aloud the names of the 17 victims who had been killed by gunmen in France, and on behalf of the parliament expressed condolences to their families.

“We must fight together not to be contaminated by the hatred of terrorists. We must defend freedom for everybody in Europe and throughout the world”, said Schulz.

During the statements by political group leaders that followed, British eurosceptic MEP Nigel Farage said immigration “made it frankly impossible for many new communities to integrate”.

“We're going to have to be a lot braver and a lot more courageous in standing up for our Judeo-Christian culture”, said Farage, who wants the UK to leave the EU and leads a eurosceptic group in the EP.

Far-right MEP Marine Le Pen, leader of France's National Front, connected the attacks to European immigration and security policies.

“Is the total opening of our national borders the real way to control fundamentalists who cross borders at will? Is it not the policies of austerity that have weakened our ability to respond? Or the disarming of our police and armies?”.

Shortly after the opening of the plenary, tens of thousands took to the streets in Germany, as the anti-islam movement Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West (Pegida) on Monday continued its weekly gatherings.

A record number of 25,000 anti-immigration protesters rallied in Dresden under the flag of Pegida, while around 100,000 anti-Pegida demonstrators showed up, mostly elsewhere in Germany.

Since October, Pegida has marched every Monday in Dresden, and later in other German cities, to protest against what they call the islamisation of Europe. Monday's was the first time they gathered since the terrorist attacks in France.

The German minister for justice, Heiko Maas, had asked the organisers to call off their planned protest for Monday, only three days after the French police ended a three-day security crisis.

“It is simply disgusting how the people behind these protests are trying to exploit the despicable crimes in Paris”, Maas told Bild.

However, the Pegida movement stated on its webpage that the events in France have confirmed their belief.

“The Islamists, which Pegida has been warning about for 12 weeks, showed France that they are not capable of democracy but rather look to violence and death as an answer”, it said.

For her part, German chancellor Angela Merkel and most of her cabinet are planning to attend a rally on Tuesday (13 January) organised by the country's muslim community. She said on Monday that Islam “belongs in Germany”.

Meanwhile, the surviving staff of the Charlie Hebdo magazine on Monday revealed that its next issue, to be published on Wednesday (14 January), will feature a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammed, holding up a “Je suis Charlie”-sign, below the line “all is forgiven”.

In the US, a spokesperson for president Barack Obama said Washington “should have sent someone with a higher profile” to Sunday's solidarity march in Paris, which was attended by several dozens of government leaders.

The US was represented by its ambassador to France.

EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration

"No significant progress" has been made on the latest round of talks between the UK and EU on how their relationship should look from January, according to Michel Barnier. The EU told UK to stick to its prior commitments.

News in Brief

  1. Poland accused of 'blatant violation' of EU court injunction
  2. EU concerned by US approach to Kosovo and Serbia
  3. City morgues cast doubt on Putin's virus data
  4. ECB increases pandemic stimulus to €1.35 trillion
  5. New EU cloud computing platform 'moonshot'
  6. City of Berlin passes anti-discrimination law
  7. Iran hits record corona cases in second wave
  8. EU job losses tell tale of pandemic damage

EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration

"No significant progress" has been made on the latest round of talks between the UK and EU on how their relationship should look from January, according to Michel Barnier. The EU told UK to stick to its prior commitments.

Green Deal

CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find

The European Court of Auditors has urged the European Commission to establish measurable commitments to tackle biodiversity loss caused by intensive farming - as the Common Agriculture Policy has so far failed to reverse this long-standing issue.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  3. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis
  5. UNESDACircularity works, let’s all give it a chance
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers call for post-corona synergies between economic recovery and green transition

Latest News

  1. EU warns UK to abide by Brexit political declaration
  2. Internal EU borders open by 15 June - bar V4, Portugal, Spain
  3. CAP 'failed to halt biodiversity loss', auditors find
  4. After Covid-19, deserted Venice struggles to survive
  5. Commission plans strategy to 'maximise' vaccine access
  6. How spies use women to steal EU secrets
  7. Hong Kong - when the Chinese Dream became a nightmare
  8. Right of reply: Letter from the Hungarian government

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us