Skip to main content
Charlie Hebdo - Statements by President Hollande

Charlie Hebdo - Statements by President Hollande

Published on January 8, 2015
Statements by François Hollande, President of the Republic

Address by the President of the Republic, François Hollande

Paris, January 9, 2015

My dear compatriots,

France has been attacked for three consecutive days: on Wednesday, with the attack against Charlie Hebdo, which killed 12 people and seriously injured several others; on Thursday, with the murder of a municipal police woman and the assault of an employee in Montrouge; and today with two hostage sieges, one of which was in Paris, in Porte de Vincennes, which killed four people.

France faced up to the situation. First, I would like to express my wholehearted solidarity with the families, the victims, and the injured. France faced up to the situation; she overcame an ordeal that was a tragedy for the nation, but she had a duty to do so.

The murderers have been taken out of harm’s way thanks to a two-fold intervention: one in Dammartin-en-Goële, in a warehouse and the other in Porte de Vincennes, at a Kosher store. I want to pay tribute to the courage, bravery and effectiveness of the gendarmes, the police officers, and all those who took part in these operations. I would like to tell them that we are proud; we are proud of them because when the order was given, they launched the attack simultaneously, and achieved the same result. They did so to save the lives of the hostages. They did so to neutralize the terrorists, those who had committed murders.

But even though she is aware that she has faced up to this situation and her security forces are composed of men and women who are capable of bravery and courage, France knows that there will be more threats targeted against her.

I call on you to remain vigilant, united and mobilized. Vigilance must be demonstrated, first and foremost, by the State. The Prime Minister and I have further stepped up the protection of our public places so that we may live quietly, without being subject to threats or dangers. But we must be alert.

I call on you to remain united, because – as I previously told the French people – it’s our best weapon. We must show our determination to fight against anything that could divide us, and to be merciless when it comes to racism and anti-Semitism. For it was an appalling act of anti-Semitism that was committed today at that kosher store.

Not being divided means we must not paint people with a broad brush, we must reject facile thinking and eschew exaggeration. Those who committed these terrorist acts, those terrorists, those fanatics, have nothing to do with the Muslim religion.

Finally, we must mobilize our efforts. We must be able to respond to attacks by force, when we have no choice, but also through solidarity.
We must show just how effective solidarity is. We are a free nation that does not give in to pressure, that is not afraid, because we have an ideal that is greater than we are and we are able to defend it wherever peace is threatened. Once more I want to pay tribute to our soldiers who make it possible for us to shoulder our responsibilities with respect to terrorism.

Many leaders from around the world have expressed their solidarity with us. Several have told me that they will attend the mass demonstration on Sunday. I will be with them, and I call on all French people to stand up, this Sunday, for the values of democracy, freedom and pluralism that are so important to us all, and which Europe, in a way, represents.

I promise you that we will emerge even stronger from this ordeal.

Vive la République et vive la France.

Statement by Mr. François Hollande, President of the Republic, at the Elysée Palace

My dear compatriots,

Today, France was attacked at its very heart in Paris, at the offices of a newspaper. This extremely violent shooting killed 12 people and injured several others; highly talented cartoonists, courageous columnists were killed. Their impertinence and independence influenced generations and generations of French people. I want to tell them that we will continue to defend this message, this message of freedom, in their name.

This cowardly attack also killed two police officers, the very ones who were responsible for protecting Charlie Hebdo and its editorial staff who have been threatened for years by obscurantism and who defended the freedom of expression.

These men, this woman, died because of their vision of France, namely freedom. I would like, on your behalf, to express our wholehearted gratitude to the families, to those affected, to the injured, to the friends, to all those who were deeply hurt today by this cowardly murder. They are now our heroes and that’s why I have decided that tomorrow will be a day of national mourning. There will be a moment of silence at 12:00 pm in all government offices and I encourage everyone to join in. Flags will be flown at half-mast for three days.

Today it is the Republic as a whole that has been attacked. The Republic equals freedom of expression; the Republic equals culture, creation, it equals pluralism and democracy. That is what the assassins were targeting. It equals the ideal of justice and peace that France promotes everywhere on the international stage, and the message of peace and tolerance that we defend – as do our soldiers – in the fight against terrorism and fundamentalism.

France has received messages of solidarity and fraternity from countries around the globe, and we must take their full measure. Our response must be commensurate with the crime committed against us, first by seeking the perpetrators of this act of infamy, and then by making sure they are arrested, tried and punished very severely. And everything will be done to apprehend them. The investigation is now moving forward under the authority of the Ministry of Justice.

We must also protect all public spaces. The government has implemented what is known as the Vigipirate Plan on “attack” level, which means that security forces will be deployed wherever there is the hint of a threat.
Finally, we ourselves must be mindful of the fact that our best weapon is our unity: the unity of all our fellow citizens in this difficult moment. Nothing can divide us, nothing must pit us against one another, nothing must separate us. Tomorrow I will convene the Presidents of both assemblies as well as the political forces represented in Parliament to demonstrate our common resolve.

France is great when she is capable of rising to the test, rising to a level that has always enabled her to overcome hardships. Freedom will always be stronger than barbarity. France has always vanquished her enemies when she has stood united and remained true to her values. That is what I ask you to do: to join together, all of you, in every way possible; that must be our response. Let us join together at this difficult moment, and we shall win, because we are fully capable of believing in our destiny, and nothing can weaken our resolve.

Let us join together.

Vive la République et vive la France!

Statement by François Hollande, President of the Republic in front of the offices of Charlie Hebdo

An act of exceptional barbarism has just been committed here in Paris against a newspaper – a newspaper, i.e. the expression of freedom – and against journalists who had always wanted to show that in France they could always work to uphold their ideas and to enjoy the very freedom the Republic protects. There were also police to protect them. They – journalists and police – were cravenly murdered. As I speak, 11 people have died and four are in critical condition. We don’t yet have a definitive toll of all the victims, but there are 40 people who are under protection and who are safe. We shall have the exact toll in a few hours.

At 2:00 p.m., I shall convene at the Elysée a meeting of the ministers and officials now directly concerned with the protection we have to ensure for all places where similar acts could be repeated by the same barbaric individuals. And so we have put the Vigipirate Plan (1) on “attack” level. Action was taken immediately following the attack to find the perpetrators of these acts. They will be hunted down for as long as necessary so they can be arrested and brought before judges and sentenced.

France is in shock – the shock of an attack, because it’s a terrorist attack, there’s no doubt about that – against a newspaper that had already been threatened on several occasions and had consequently been under protection. At such times, we must stand together as one, show that we are a united country and that we can react properly, with firmness, but always with concern for national unity. That will be my stance and my resolve throughout the coming days and weeks. I will once again speak to the French, for as I said, this is an extremely difficult time. Several terrorist attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks, and we knew that we were under threat, as indeed were other countries. We are under threat because we are a country of freedoms, and because we are a country of freedoms, we will neutralize threats and punish aggressors. No one should think that he can act in France in a way that is contrary to the principles of the Republic, and attack the very spirit of the Republic: a newspaper. My thoughts today are with the victims. Eleven people have died, and four are hovering between life and death. That is where we stand right now. We are committed to finding those responsible, and call – as much as possible – for national unity. Thank you.

      top of the page