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Still under state of emergency, Paris commemorates terror victims

Parisians held a ceremony to commemorate all victims of terror attacks, including those last year in Paris and in July in Nice, as the country remains under a state of emergency.

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    A photograph lays between flowers at the monument for the victims of terror attacks after a ceremony for victims of terrorism in Paris on Monday, Sept. 19, 2016.
    Michel Euler/AP
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Hundreds gathered in Paris on Monday to remember the lives lost in terror attacks over the past year. 

Attendees honored the memory of loved ones killed by Islamic extremists in Paris in November, Nice in July, and other attacks by reading aloud the names of the deceased. 

"Our country had never been attacked to this extent, with such destructive rage, with such barbarian cruelty. That's why it was so important for names, all names to be evoked," said President François Hollande, who was present at the ceremony. He spoke of the importance of adequate support, protection, and help for survivors and their families, and promised to reform the system of state indemnities for survivors. 

The president was also stressed that the threat of terror is not just in the past, as the country remains under a state of emergency. 

"We must ensure that the action taken is sustained, and here I am talking about all the measures taken to foresee attacks, deter them and stop them. It's a constant battle and will need still more resources than those I have called for," President Hollande said. 

The country has been under a state of emergency since Nov. 13, 2015, when militants linked to the Islamic State killed 130 people at several places in Paris. The government has since increased its hiring of police and placed thousands of police and soldiers on the streets to guard sensitive sites. But in the wake of an attack in Nice, France, in July that killed 86 people, many say that Hollande has not done enough to protect the public.

As Colette Davidson reported for The Christian Science Monitor in July: 

The Nice attack – which marks the third time a self-proclaimed or organized terrorist has struck French soil in 18 months – has become a tipping point for a public fed up with the government’s apparent inability to prevent attacks and what it sees as ineffective, insufficient security measures. The government’s calls for unity have largely fallen on deaf ears, coming as they have after months of deteriorating confidence and social unrest, including aviation, train, and garbage strikes, anti-police violence, and nationwide protests. 

Some attendees at Monday's ceremony called for unity among French people in recovering from the attacks. 

Yasmine Marzouk, a Muslim woman who survived the Nice attack but lost three family members that day, lamented the fact that "these criminals attacked that day a republican symbol, especially children who represent France's future, and families – symbols of tolerance, cohesion, and love."

Ms. Marzouk called on the president and his successors to prevent any further attacks, in the hope that "the flames of hatred stop fanning between the different religious communities. Lets' be one single community with our shared values and our differences," she said.

This report contains material from Reuters and the Associated Press. 

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