State visit to India
Right here, on the evening of 26 November 2008, our fellow citizens, Loumia and Mourad Amarsy – beloved and respected in both India and France – were cravenly murdered by terrorists.
It was the evening that horror descended on this city, ravaged to the core by attacks comparable to those of 11 September 2001 in the United States. The terrorists set upon innocent crowds, selecting their targets in order to kill as many people as possible and spread terror and death everywhere. The massacres at the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station, the Cama Hospital, the Jewish centre Chabad House, the Leopold Cafe and the Taj, Oberoi and Trident hotels killed 166 people and left hundreds injured. For three days, the terrorists occupied the hotels and Chabad House, taking their occupants hostage and sowing a path of destruction. Guided by accomplices abroad using the most modern means of communication, they thwarted the efforts of law enforcement until the final assault. Technology was used to serve savagery and fanaticism. Those attacks will remain forever engraved in our memories. France will not forget this martyred city.
I say to you solemnly that we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India to ensure that justice is done. We all know how these attacks were conceived, planned and financed.
Those responsible for these murders equipped, trained and remotely controlled the terrorist squad in Mumbai.
The Mumbai attacks proved that terrorism is nothing more than criminal activity. It claims to act on behalf of political or religious goals. The truth is that the terrorists are savages and terrorism is savagery. It claims to serve ideals; it abuses them by its actions. For all of us, who are explicitly threatened by al-Qaeda, seeking to protect ourselves from attacks isn’t enough; we must find ways to prevent their recurrence.
It isn’t acceptable for India’s security to be threatened by terrorist groups based in neighbouring territories. It isn’t acceptable for Afghanistan or for our troops that the Taliban and al-Qaeda take refuge in Pakistan’s border regions. We know what a heavy toll terrorism takes on the Pakistani people themselves, but for the world it isn’t acceptable for terrorist attacks to be planned or carried out by groups trained in Pakistan.
The Indian Prime Minister exhibited remarkable restraint in the days following the Mumbai attacks and he is steadfastly conducting a policy of dialogue with Pakistan, which we support.
France deeply values her relations with Pakistan – a democratic, stable, prosperous Pakistan. Pakistan is in no way fated to be the victim and crucible of global terrorism. I am counting on all the Pakistani authorities to step up their efforts and demonstrate their resolve against the criminals.
France, who has herself been subjected to constant threats and blackmail by Islamist terrorists, to which she will not yield, is determined to step up her efforts to eradicate this scourge.
The first requirement is international cooperation – total, unlimited cooperation.
Terrorism must be universally outlawed. There must be no sanctuary for terrorists.
The international agreements governing the fight against various forms of terrorism must be implemented with rigour and determination.
Police and judicial cooperation must be more intense. Nothing is worse than the terrorists’ exploitation of weaknesses in our systems of cooperation.
The Indian Prime Minister and I have made this issue a priority and I can assure you there will be no limit to the operational cooperation between India and France in the fight against terrorism.
We are determined to conduct this effort against terrorism while strictly abiding by our values and the rule of law. Renouncing them, adopting emergency legislation or resorting to inhumane methods, would in a way be playing into the terrorists’ hands by abdicating our dignity. You do not combat terrorism using the terrorists’ methods.
Beyond this immediate action, the community of nations must now ask why, within a few years, terrorism has become such a widespread scourge; why young people are irresistibly drawn towards this barbarous form of supposedly political or religious action; how educated people to whom life seems to offer so much can become candidates for massacres and suicide. As unpardonable as they may be, these crimes cannot dispense us from raising such questions.
What is going on? Is it a reaction against shaken cultural identities? A perverse backlash against the injustices of today’s world? Without our turning a blind eye to terrorism, the spread of this scourge must lead us to do more to correct the most blatant injustices and most obvious abuses.
Together, France and India – both proponents of humanism, both devoted to peace, both aware of the need to respect different cultures and diversity – must be the standard-bearers of this message.
My dear compatriots,
I am glad that Mumbai was able to tend its wounds in a short time and the Governor was able to resume its forward march. I am pleased and even proud that so many French people and many of our companies are coming here to participate in the fantastic adventure of India’s development.
Mumbai remains a magnificent Gateway to India, open to the world; the country’s economic capital. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis that must view the future with optimism.
During the Mumbai attacks hundreds of foreigners, including very many French people, were saved by the heroism of the staff at the Taj, Trident and Oberoi hotels.
Today I want to express France and India’s solidarity against terrorism. And I want to express France’s gratitude to those very brave Indians.
In honouring the managers of the Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels at the time of the attacks, I want to offer my own heartfelt tribute to all those who helped – sometimes at risk of their own lives – to save the lives of our citizens.
Mr Devendra Bharma, executive vice-president of the Oberoi and Trident Hotels of Mumbai, you welcomed me in Delhi in January 2008. I am well aware of your personal efforts and those of your whole team in Mumbai during those tragic days. You took decisions that saved hundreds of lives.
Mr Karambir Kang, former general manager of the Hotel Taj Mahal, you did not hesitate for a moment to put your own life in danger to save your hotel guests.
France wants to thank you and that’s why I will now bestow upon you both the insignia of Officier de l’Ordre National de Mérite.