Monday

20th May 2019

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 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join 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.

Agenda

EU prepares to vote on future leaders This WEEK

The political spotlight switches from Brussels to national capitals and regions this week as Europe gears up for the start of European Parliament elections on Thursday

May to step down after fourth EU vote

British prime minister Theresa May has agreed to step down after her fourth attempt to pass an EU exit deal in June - no matter what the outcome.

News in Brief

  1. EU flies rainbow flag on anti-homophobia day
  2. EU to freeze money and visas of foreign cyber-attackers
  3. EU reassures US on arms sales
  4. Use euros over dollars in energy contracts, France says
  5. UK cross-party Brexit talks collapse
  6. Climate activists occupy German-Russian gas pipeline
  7. Farage got €515,000 of private perks
  8. French EU commissioner urges Italy not to overspend

Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  3. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  4. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  5. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  6. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  11. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  12. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  3. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  8. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  9. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  10. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  11. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us