Friday, November 14, 2014

14-Nov-14: Ensuring the memory of the Rue Copernic terrorist attack victims lives on, and why that's so important

We posted here in the early hours of this morning about the Canadian Supreme Court's decision yesterday in a terrorism case that will mean the deportation back to France of a prime suspect in the unsolved attack.

Victims of terrorism know - in ways that other people sometimes intuit but more often don't notice or ignore - that those who execute acts of terror are remembered, quoted and photographed far more than the innocent victims of their savagery.

So it is with no small amount of quiet satisfaction that we publish here several photographs that arrived by email this morning. They come from the fine people who stand at the helm of the active and effective French terror victims representative organization, the Association française des Victimes du Terrorisme, the AfVT. They record a media conference and memorial event organized by the Association and the French Jewish Liberal Union on October 2, 2013 inside the restored Rue Copernic house of worship, the Union Libérale Israélite de France synagogue. Among its goals, to pay tribute to the lives lost more than three full decades earlier to the bombers.

Rue Copernic synagogue, October 2013
Last year's ceremony at the Rue Copernic synagogue: From left to right, Ms Patricia Barbé, whose father Jean-Michel Barbé was one of the murdered victims, Mrs. Monique BarbéJean-Michel Barbé's widow; Mr Micha Shagrir, from Israel, whose wife Aliza was murdered; and Mrs. Corinne Adler who as a young girl was celebrating her bat-mitzvah inside the synagogue when the bomb exploded. Standing behind them is Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc who serves as president of the AfVT (Please note that all the photographs are Copyright © 2014 Michel Pourny /, and are published here with their permission.)

Rue Copernic, October 2013

The bombing on narrow Rue Copernic has been called "one of the first contemporary terrorist strikes on a synagogue outside the Middle East" and "the first fatal attack against the French Jewish community since the Nazi occupation in World War II." The first, but unfortunately not the only or the last. Other attacks on France's Jews in recent decades are listed in a 2012 Bloomberg article here.          
Chart is based on Europol 2013 data. France takes a prominent role [Source]
France has seen many terror attacks, and their rate does not seem to be declining. According to a Europol report published in May 2014, France has substantially higher rates of terrorism within its borders than anywhere else in Europe (see "France is the terror capital of Europe, EUROPOL figures show"). 

It's a reflection of a larger problem; an analysis in the Wall Street Journal last month says
European authorities are ill-prepared to cope with what they themselves have identified as a top security threat: scores of suspected militants who are flocking home from the front lines of Syria’s bloody civil war, replete with battlefield training and European passports... French President François Hollande has warned the French public of “young men who are indoctrinated, brainwashed, and who can come back home with the worst plans in mind.” Islamic State has responded by calling on European nationals to mount terrorist attacks on their native soil... And yet France - a country that has some of the continent’s toughest antiterrorism legislation in place, and has poured financial and military resources into combating Islamist insurgencies abroad - is straining to cope with new threats... Easy, borders-free travel within the European Union makes it possible for suspected militants to hopscotch through the region, undetected.
The reality is, though there is a great deal of denial about this, that most authorities in most places are ill-prepared to cope with the threats posed by terrorists, certainly including the determined, ideologically-driven jihadists among them.

We say a fundamental part of preparing our societies for the challenges ahead is in honoring the memory of the victims, and protecting and upholding the core values of justice. Those constitute the most striking difference between the terrorists and those who will repulse and defeat them. That's why we salute those who who remember the victims and who continue to pursue the bombers who brought their barbarism to Paris's Rue Copernic.

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