Paris attacks: Minute's silence observed in France, across Europe for Paris victims

(From left) French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French President Francois Hollande and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls observe a minute of silence at the Sorbonne University in Paris to pay tribute to victims of Friday's Paris attack
(From left) French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French President Francois Hollande and French Prime Minister Manuel Valls observe a minute of silence at the Sorbonne University in Paris to pay tribute to victims of Friday's Paris attacks on Nov 16, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

PARIS (AFP) - France and other countries in Europe observed a minute's silence at noon (7pm Singapore time) on Monday (Nov 16) in memory of the victims of the worst-ever terror attacks on French soil.

In Paris, President Francois Hollande was at the Sorbonne University surrounded by his cabinet,and at Place de la Republique near the site of many of Friday’s attacks, hundreds more stood still to remember the 129 people who were killed in the bloodbath.

Large crowds also gathered in silence by the Bataclan music venue where 89 people were died, and outside a nearby bar and restaurant where 15 people were slain, AFP correspondents said.  

At the G20 summit in Turkey, the seven EU leaders present – David Cameron, Angela Merkel, Matteo Renzi, Mariano Rajoy, Laurent Fabius, Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker – observed the minute of silence in front of the main entrance.  

The EU and French flags were both decorated with a black ribbon, while around 100 journalists took part in the tribute in the press centre at the European Commission building in Brussels.  

In Britain, the Houses of Parliament rang the division bell on the stroke of 11:00 am (7pm Singapore time) as members fell silent and Union Jack flags on all government buildings flew at half-mast “as a mark of respect and expression of solidarity”.

The England football team, due to play France in a friendly match on Tuesday, broke off training in Enfield, north of London, to pay tribute.

In front of London’s majestic St Paul’s Cathedral, tourists and passers-by stopped in their tracks to honour the dead as hundreds more paid their respects in Trafalgar Square.

Some carried makeshift posters reading ‘je suis Paris’ and ‘Stand up against Terrorism in the world’, while a lady serenaded the crowd with Edith Piaf songs.

Shoppers in Britain’s main cities collected in public squares to reflect on Friday’s events while offices and shops across the country fell silent.

Shortly after observing the tribute, Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, said the alliance stood “in strong solidarity with the government and the people of France in their unwavering determination to deal with the terrorist threat.”

In Madrid, a hundred lawmakers paid tribute on the steps outside parliament as a nearby trumpeter played the Marseillaise.

In the nearby Atocha station, the scene of bombings that killed 191 people in March 2004, about fifty people gathered, while some 300 people marked the event in front of City Hall.

In Berlin, a crowd hundreds-strong collected outside the French embassy – next to the Brandenburg Gate – where thousands of bouquets have been left.

Hundreds also gathered in Amsterdam’s historic Dam Square, while in The Hague, the Dutch flag flew at half-mast in front of parliament.  

Young people paying their respects in Rome held hands and wept as a musician played “La Vie en Rose” on an accordion.  

In Sweden, government officials observed the event and main squares in some cities fell silent.

Norway’s parliament also observed the silence, while in Copenhagen, the bells of the City Hall did not chime at midday.