France "is at war," declared Francois Hollande on Monday, the president delivering a charged speech following Friday’s attacks in Paris. Speaking to a rare joint sitting of both houses of parliament in Versailles, Hollande said a bill to extend the state of emergency for three months would be tabled this week, while promising he was committed to "not just containing, but destroying" the Islamic State group that claimed responsibility for last week’s massacre.
The coordinated attacks on bars, restaurants, a concert hall and a stadium in the French capital left 129 people dead and hundreds injured. Hollande also promised to dispatch France’s one aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, to the Middle East to aid the military campaign against Isis, also known as Isil or Daesh.
French President Francois Hollande delivers a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015
The Congress began with a minute’s silence and ended with a rendition of the "La Marseillaise.”
“The acts committed on Friday night in Paris and at the Stade are acts of war,” he said. “This constitutes an attack against our country, against its values against its youth, against its way of life. Isil struck France because it is ‘free’ and ‘the nation of human rights'. This is not a war of civilisation as these assassins don't have any. This is a war against the jihadist menace that threatens not just France."
Hollande said his country loves “life, culture, sport and partying” and that's the France the terrorists want to kill. "What was their only crime? To be alive," he lamented.
During the speech, the president confirmed the plot was hatched in Syria and launched from Belgium with the help of a French sleeper cell. "They followed a precise aim to spread fear and division here and to pressure us to stop us in the Middle East to fight terror,” he said. "I have asked the security council to meet in as soon as possible to pass a resolution to common fight against terror. We will pursue airstrikes in the weeks to come. Our enemy in Syria is Daesh: it's not about containing but destroying this organisation."
Hollande called for a united coalition against Isis, noting that he will meet with US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin this week to "unite our forces."
Hollande observes a minute of silence before delivering a speech at the Versailles castle, west of Paris, Monday, Nov.16, 2015
"Daesh is the enemy of Europe, and Europe cannot live with the idea that the crises that surround it don't have an effect on it,” he said. “The migrant question is directly linked to the crisis in Syria and Iraq. If Europe doesn't control its external borders it is the return of national borders or walls and barbed wire as we've seen today."
Hollande added that he would change article 36 of the French constitution that would allow the government to strip people with dual nationality of French citizenship should they commit a terrorist crime.
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