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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Europe Diary: Solidarity with the murdered victims in Paris: report from Nantes

The symbol of Peace for Paris unfurled in Nantes during the observance of 1 minute of silence, 16 November 2015.

My journey to the UN climate conference in Paris has involved staying in the regional city of Nantes for a week. Too short a period to do it justice, I fear.

The atrocities committed in Paris have overshadowed my stay in this green and progressive city.

I attended a meeting in Nantes last Friday discussing 'Global warming: who profits?' It was part of a month long program of debates, films, a concert, artistic performances and expositions. I was made welcome, though my high school french vocabulary from 45 years ago is nothing but a few words. I followed the initial visual presentation in bits and pieces being familiar with the content, if not the language.

The meeting broke up into focus groups to discuss and answer the question posed. Initially I sat outside the framework but was then invited to join one of the focus groups with people with more English skills than I possess of French. So in a fashion I contributed to the discussion.

Of course the events of that night were overtaken by the horror of the terrorist attacks in Paris which I have already reported on. That night Francois Hollande declared a state of emergency for France, including a ban on unauthorised gatherings in the streets of Paris. It was left up to regional and city governments whether to implement the same ban in other cities.

A protest against racism had already been organised in Nantes for Saturday. This went ahead. Johanna Rolland, Mayor of Nantes issued a statement saying events planned for the weekend had been authorised by the prefecture, adding "I wish the organizers of the events will devote a moment of reflection for the victims of the attacks."

The protest attracted over 500 people and became an opportunity to share the pain of the Paris attacks. See Presse Ocean report: Attentats à Paris 500 personnes au rassemblement place du Bouffay à Nantes

In one moving moment one young woman at the protest told of the death of her friend, Remi, who was murdered in the Bataclan theatre.

A mass at Nantes Cathedral on the Sunday evening attracted 1500 people (Report).

On monday at midday a minutes silence was observed widely by Nantais in solidarity with the victims of the attacks and their famillies. (Report)

The pain of Paris was felt in Nantes, a microcosm of the mood across France.

Scenes from Paris

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