Anne Hidalgo to visit Washington, D.C.
In the wake of the attacks in Paris and Copenhagen at the beginning of the year, the fight against extremist aberrations is, more than ever, a priority for public authorities all over the world.
As Anne Hidalgo underscored during her visit to Copenhagen on Monday, February 16, “we cannot allow young people to be caught up and destabilized by fundamentalists, who turn them into fanatics calling for death. Our response must be the security of our fellow citizens, the affirmation of our values and education.”
At the invitation of U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, the mayor of Paris will discuss measures to prevent the radicalization of young people at an international summit hosted by the White House.
Highlights of the visit
Wednesday, February 18
|8:30 am||Opening of the Summit on Countering Violent Extremism|
|10:00 am||Speech at the round table chaired by Hedieh Mirahmadi, President of WORDE|
|1:00 pm||Meeting with Ira Forman, U.S. Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Anti-Semitism|
|4:30 pm||Private conversation with President Obama, following his closing remarks at the summit|
|5:00 pm||Reception at the invitation of John Kerry|
Department of State
Thursday, February 19
|8:45 am||Meeting with Charles Rivkin, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs and former U.S. Ambassador to France|
|10:00 am||Meeting with Muriel Bowser, Democratic Mayor of Washington|
Washington City Hall
Press contact: Marie Francolin
firstname.lastname@example.org | +33(0)22.214.171.124.61
Washington, D.C. February 18, 2015
Thank you very much for your invitation. On behalf of the Parisians, I would like to express the gratitude of our city for this invitation that is fully in line with all the marks of solidarity and friendship that we received from the United States since the terrible attacks that plunged Paris into mourning on the 7th and 9th of January. My particular thanks go to the Secretary of State, John Kerry and the Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, for their visit to Paris in the days that followed, as well as to all the American mayors who sent me letters of support.
At the beginning of the year, Paris was the stage of the most deadly attacks perpetrated in France since the end of the war of Algeria in 1962. During these three terrible days, 17 people were slaughtered because they were journalists or worked in a newspaper, because they were policemen or because they were Jews. This tragedy had a horrible prolongation on Saturday in a Copenhagen cultural center during a conference on the freedom of expression organized to render homage to Charlie Hebdo. It was followed by a shooting against a synagogue of the Danish capital.
These violent acts are examples of the rising tide of inter-communal violence in our society. Unfortunately, figures speak for themselves: in France the number of anti-Semitic acts doubled between 2013 and 2014 (851 acts reported in 2014 against 423 in 2013). With 154 incidents in Paris in 2014 against 77 during the previous year, Paris is no exception. And at the same time, acts against Muslims increased by 10% in one year. And even by 70% after the January attacks.
Without these values of tolerance a city like Paris would not exist. This is what was demonstrated in the most beautiful manner by more than 4 million people who took to the streets of Paris for a historic march, and by the very moving solidarity expressed worldwide.
These January attacks were not only targeted at Paris and the Parisians. They were targeted at the core values of our democracies. Of course, there are differences between us, on both sides of the Atlantic. But we agree on the essential.
We share the same ideal born from the Enlightenment, translated in the Declaration of Independence of the United States and the 1789 Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen, and, 150 years, later by the 1948 Declaration that forms the basis of our international Law.
However, we can see today that it’s no longer sufficient to assert to the values of Liberty and Equality. Faced with the insidious temptation of identitarian closure or its most violent expressions, we must oppose a full-fledged project of society, a Fraternity inspired by the principle written down at the beginning of the Declaration of Independence that talks about the pursuit of happiness. It is not a question of imposing happiness but of making it possible.
This is exactly what we intend to do in Paris. What should be our response?
The first response is security and the vigilance of the authorities. Vigipirate, our national security alert system was raised to its highest level and several priorities were set or strengthened. The first objective is to protect a certain number of places that can be targeted:
sites identified as having a relationship with Judaism such as denominational schools, synagogues and other places of worship (all of a religious services are taking place normally), representative institutions like the Shoah Memorial of the Historic Museum of Judaism and also neighborhoods where the Jewish community lives or is present. In all these areas, patrols have been stepped up.
The main places of Muslim worship of Paris are also protected, especially during prayer.
The most emblematic places of Catholic worship.
The headquarters of the media and publishing houses.
The main buildings of the institutions of the French Republic, as well as a certain number of foreign representations.
Permanent patrols by the police and the army have also been intensified in symbolic and emblematic sites and tourist areas.
Today in Paris, an additional 2000 policemen and 6000 soldiers are deployed.
This work on the ground is complemented by efforts aimed at preventing attacks through intelligence, the collection and exchange of information with foreign services and updated methods of detection of radicalization.
In order to prevent radicalization we have recently created with the Paris Police Authority and the Ministry of Justice a joint platform of prevention of religious radicalization. A prevention unit in Paris handles reports: a hotline has been set up for all citizens but especially for parents who sometimes see their children become radicalized.
Associations have been mandated to reach out to the families and relatives of these people and address situations via the school, the professional environment and social networks. They can also provide support to people who get out of prison.
Lastly, instead of legal proceedings, we gave priority to alternative measures such as the education to citizenship in order to establish a direct connection between the sanction and the offence committed. For instance we have developed two types of response : according to the principle “if you break it, your fix it”, people who have deteriorated urban furniture have to work for the company that manages the Velib self-service bicycle system; and above all, citizenship training courses are organized in partnership with the Shoah Memorial for racist and anti-Semitic offenses.
Second response: the promotion of an “inclusive city”. In this respect I drew my inspiration from American experiences to reshape the French model of Republican integration.
All the people who live in Paris and its surroundings, regardless of their convictions, religion or origin, must be able to find the keys to success and full development thanks to the support of the city government.
Today, a Pact against exclusion will be signed in Paris in order to drastically drive down the number of homeless people by 2020. I would remind you that the Kouachi brothers, who perpetrated the attacks against Charlie Hebdo, had been living on the street for a while, in the 19th district of Paris. Solidarity in everyday life is what we want to offer to all citizens and in all the neighborhoods of Paris. Our ambition is the exact opposite of these “no go zones” that came straight out of the imagination of a few: for more than 10 years, we have been investing more in popular neighborhoods than in other sectors and we concentrate our efforts on schools, health centers, housing…
In Paris, we spare no effort to fight against any form of relegation and geographical, ethnic and social segregation. For this purpose Paris is going to invest €10 million during my term in office to make housing affordable to the greatest number of people for this is the gateway to the life of the city; to develop public transport and allow everyone to have a real access to jobs and services; to renovate popular neighborhoods, multiply the number of places in childcare centers, create new cultural and sports facilities in the neighborhoods. We have also strengthened our partnership with prisons that are a hotbed of radicalization in France, as well as with the services in charge of integration in order to anticipate the release from jail of these young people and prevent them from being left on their own and ending up under the influence of radical movements.
Besides we must restore the dialogue between communities: this is why I decided to organize a meeting at City Hall on March 12 with the main religious authorities and secular associations to propose concrete actions aimed at fostering coexistence. In parallel, an Observatory of secularism (the only one in France) will also be reinstated in Paris to prevent extremist behaviors among public service agents. Its objective is also to enhance the peaceful coexistence of religions in Paris. If the concept of secularism is a French specificity, I want it to be implemented in such a way that all religions are placed on an equal footing.
The other major priority is of course education combined with the necessity to listen carefully to our youth. Several measures were adopted in the aftermath of the attacks: opening of schools on Saturday morning to prevent school drop-out that is always the first step toward radicalization; increasing by 50% the number of young people who sign up for civic service because it paves the way to the labor market and permits to become a full-fledged citizen.
To fight racism and anti-Semitism, I’m also launching a call for projects intended for all the associations concerned so that children from the age of three can participate twice a week in school workshops to make them aware of the dangers of intolerance and discriminations.
In the face of exclusion, our response will be integration and civic participation. Because my project is to build a multicultural city in which nobody is left on the sidelines, a city that gives all citizens the opportunity to participate in the construction of our collective destiny and shape their own future. Like New York, we want to create a City of Paris ID card.
This is the spirit that we are already instilling through our participatory budget: the Parisians - foreigners and children included - can now propose and choose projects that do not exceed 5% of the total Paris investment budget (100 million dollars per year, that is to say the most important participatory budget in the world). We are giving back to our citizens the keys to decision making.
We also want the spontaneous reaction of the citizens that emerged on the aftermath of the attacks to thrive and grow. This is why a digital platform will be available to associations and groups of inhabitants who would like to undertake actions of a public interest. Through this platform they will meet citizens willing to contribute to their initiative on a voluntary basis like the community service in the United States.
This is the price to pay if we want our century that is so full of uncertainty and promise, to be the century of democracy and progress.