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Richard D.
Democrat IL

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  • Terrorist Attacks in Paris

    by Senator Richard J. Durbin

    Posted on 2015-01-12

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    DURBIN. Mr. President, later today Members of the Senate family will have two opportunities to express our solidarity with the people of France in their hour of grief and to reaffirm our commitment to the principles of freedom and tolerance--values that have bound our nations together since the creation of the United States and the French Republic.

    In a short while the Senate will consider a resolution condemning the series of terrorist attacks that have shaken France, starting with the attack on the offices of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and ending with a siege Friday at a kosher supermarket in Paris. Our resolution expresses our condolences to the families of the victims and our solidarity with the people of France. It also expresses our deep commitment to the universal right of freedom of expression--a freedom for which the writers and artists of Charlie Hebdo gave their lives. I am honored to lead this resolution, along with Senators Murphy of Connecticut and Johnson of Wisconsin.

    Later this afternoon Senators and their staffs will have an opportunity to sign a condolence book expressing their sympathy and solidarity to the people of France. The book will be outside the Senate Foreign Relations Committee room on the first floor of the Capitol. In memory of the victims, we will welcome the French Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Gerard Araud, in the committee room at 4:15 p.m.

    If the terrorists who attacked Charlie Hebdo and the kosher supermarket in Paris meant to frighten and divide freedom-loving people in France and around the world, they have failed utterly. Yesterday 4 million people marched in demonstrations in cities across the nation of France. A million and a half people marched in Paris alone. Authorities said it was the largest gathering in Paris since the end of World War II and the largest demonstration in the history of the nation of France. They marched to declare their solidarity with the victims of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and the supermarket murders and to demonstrate their unity. The marchers included Christians, Muslims, Jews, and many other religious faiths and nonbelievers. President Francois Hollande led the March. He was joined by European and African leaders, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, America's Ambassador to France, and our Assistant Secretary of State.

    Marches were also held in other cities around the globe yesterday, from Washington to the West Bank. Tens of thousands of people showed their solidarity with the victims of these terrorist attacks in France.

    In Chicago hundreds of people turned out in the cold yesterday to rally at Daley Plaza under American and French flags. One of the organizers of the Chicago rally was a young woman named Eve Zuckerman who holds joint U.S. and French citizenship and has lived in Chicago for about 4 years. She said the spasm of violence that has shaken France is not simply an attack on France. In her words, ``What it really means is that anyone who is for freedom and for tolerance is also under attack.'' In our own country in the days after 9/11, our grief was made bearable by the countless acts of courage, kindness, and solidarity we witnessed amidst the carnage, and so it is within France today.

    One story that has touched many in France and around the world concerns a young man who worked at the kosher supermarket in Paris that was attacked on Friday. The young man risked his life to hide seven Jewish customers in the freezer in the supermarket's basement. He then risked his life again to slip out of the basement and tell the police there were people hidden downstairs. This young man described the layout of the supermarket and the location of the hostages--crucial details that enabled the police to save so many lives and end the standoff. This young man has been hailed as a hero by the citizens of France and by Israeli President Netanyahu. One more thing about this young French hero--he is a Muslim immigrant, born in Mali.

    Martin Luther King told us: We are bound together in a single garment of destiny. The millions of people in France and around the world who marched yesterday and freedom-loving people throughout the world understand this. Together in our unity and resolve, we will overcome this latest assault on our shared values.


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