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France Begins One-year Commemorations of Charlie Hebdo Attack

  • VOA News

French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday kicked off a week of commemorations marking Islamic extremist attacks in Paris that began with an assault on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, a kosher market and police a year ago this week, claiming 17 lives.

The January 7, 2015 attacks, dubbed "France's 9/11," marked the start of a string of jihadist strikes in the country that culminated in the November 13 attacks in Paris that left 130 dead.

Victims' families joined Hollande and other dignitaries to unveil a plaque at Charlie Hebdo's former offices where staff last year were holding an editorial meeting when two heavily armed brothers stormed in, killing 11 people.

French President Francois Hollande (C) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attend a ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque to pay tribute to the victims of the last year's January attacks outside the former offices of French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Jan. 5, 2016.

French President Francois Hollande (C) and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo attend a ceremony to unveil a commemorative plaque to pay tribute to the victims of the last year's January attacks outside the former offices of French weekly satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, Jan. 5, 2016.

They then paid homage to a police officer killed as he tried to chase down the fleeing gunmen. Spray painted on the sidewalk was a message of support for the Muslim officer, reading "Je suis Ahmed," or "I am Ahmed," in the red, white and blue of the French flag.

Hollande later commemorated four people killed at a kosher supermarket in an attack that revived concerns about anti-Semitism in the country with Europe's largest Jewish community.

The French president briefly met with some of the survivors of the attack inside the supermarket, including Lassana Bathily, a Mali-born employee of market who hid a group of hostages in the store's underground stockroom.

Bathily, who helped the operation to free the 15 hostages and kill the attacker, has been hailed as a hero and granted French citizenship.

The Charlie Hebdo memorial plaque was quickly covered up after authorities discovered a spelling error in the name of slain cartoonist Georges Wolinski. The black covering was later removed, and a new plaque is being prepared.

Hollande will unveil another plaque on Saturday to honor police officer Clarissa Jean-Philippe, who was killed in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge by one of the attackers on January 8.

The massacre at Charlie Hebdo unleashed an outpouring of solidarity for freedom of expression, with the rallying cry "Je Suis Charlie" taken up around the world.

Charlie Hebdo magazine marks the first anniversary of a deadly assault on its offices with a special edition. Its cover headline says: ‘The assassin still at large.’

Charlie Hebdo magazine marks the first anniversary of a deadly assault on its offices with a special edition. Its cover headline says: ‘The assassin still at large.’

Tuesday's ceremonies come as Charlie Hebdo is releasing a special anniversary issue laced with obscene and offensive cartoons, its surviving artists and columnists vaunting their freedom to lampoon everyone from Muslim fundamentalists to children, politicians and Catholic priests.

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