Attack in Seine-Maritime
Communiqués and statements by the French authorities following the attack in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray (26 July 2016).
Elysée – Tuesday, 26 July 2016
A priest, Father Jacques Hamel, a man full of goodness, was savagely murdered, his throat slit in a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray, amidst his congregation, who were themselves held as hostages. Two terrorists were shot down by the police. I salute the courage of these policemen, who acted very swiftly.
This abominable act is a fresh ordeal for the Nation even as we are still mourning the 84 victims of the attack in Nice, and Paris was so harshly struck last year.
The Catholics of France and the world are wounded, but all French people, regardless of their beliefs and their faiths, feel they have been struck to the very core of their being. Attacking a church, killing a priest is profaning the Republic, which guarantees freedom of conscience. This is sowing the seeds of terror, because what the terrorists want is to divide us, to separate us, to turn us against each other, to tear us apart.
Confronted with this threat, which has never loomed so large in France or in Europe, the government is showing absolute determination in the fight against terrorism. It is mobilising all resources human and material, with the presence of our police, our gendarmes and our armed forces all over our territory at unprecedented levels under the Fifth Republic.
The government is applying and will apply with the utmost firmness the laws we have just voted, which give the courts, prefects, law-enforcement agencies and intelligence services the capacity to act, augmented by the extension and strengthening of the state of emergency.
But I am saying this clearly: curbing our freedoms, departing from our constitutional rules will not lend efficiency to our combat against terrorism and will surely weaken the very precious cohesion of our Nation.
Our country must avoid brinkmanship, controversies, generalisations, suspicions. Our country is waging a war. An external war – that is the direction of the decisions that I have taken in Syria and Iraq – is fighting the war inside by combating radicalisation, by tracking jihadist individuals, by eradicating criminal networks, and we will continue to do so.
It is through perseverance that we will triumph. I also owe you this truth: this war will be long. What is being targeted is our democracy. It is the target, but it will also be our shield. It is our unity that is our strength.
Therefore, Frenchwomen, Frenchmen, let us unite. It is thus that we will win the war against hatred and fanaticism because I assure you we will win this war. Long live the Republic, long live France!
Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 26 July 2016
I’ve come with the Interior Minister to express the whole nation’s solidarity with the commune of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray – I’m standing next to its mayor –, which has been through a terrible ordeal, with the cowardly murder of the parish priest by two terrorists claiming allegiance to Daesh [so-called ISIL]. I met the priest’s family; I also wanted to talk to the people who were held hostage, who expressed sorrow, grief and also a desire to understand what may happen.
By this visit we also wanted to express our support for the police, for the officers who intervened extremely swiftly to prevent an even heavier toll and saved the hostages.
I’d also like to pay tribute to the emergency services, the firefighters, the SAMU [mobile emergency medical service] staff who, by also intervening very swiftly, were able to evacuate the most seriously injured person and a slightly injured person and enable their lives – I hope – to be saved.
We’re facing a tragedy, yet another one, because the threat is very high. It remains very high after everything we’ve lived through in recent days and even recent years. We’re up against a group, Daesh, which has declared war on us. We must wage this war by every means, with due respect for the law, which makes us a democracy.
What the terrorists want to do is divide us. Today, after the death of this priest, my thoughts are with France’s Catholics. I want to express support to them.
This evening I’ll be hosting a meeting with the Primate of Normandy, who will make sure he talks to the population. Tomorrow I’ll host a meeting with all the religions, because we must stand together. It’s Catholics who have been hit, all Catholics, but all French people feel concerned. That’s why we must be cohesive, in a group, a bloc that nobody must be able to split.
The anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office has been tasked with conducting the investigation. It will provide full information. The prosecutor will be able to pass on what he knows, but today we must realize, if there were any need, that the terrorists will give up nothing until we stop them. That’s what we are determined to do, and it’s what we’ll do tirelessly. It involves everything we’ve managed to implement in terms of the law, in terms of resources, and only recently through the deployment of forces. French people must know that they’re under threat, that they’re not the only country – Germany is too, as are others – but that their strength depends on their cohesion. Thank you./.
Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, 26 July 2016
Following the vile terrorist attack perpetrated in the church in Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, in the Seine-Maritime region, during which a priest was murdered and another person very seriously wounded, the President had a meeting straightaway with Mgr Pontier, President of the French Bishops’ Conference, to express his support to him at this painful time.
The President paid an on-the-spot visit, accompanied by Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve.
He extends the nation’s solidarity and sympathy to the victims’ families and all France’s Catholics.
The President paid tribute to the actions of the police, the emergency services, the Mayor and all the services of the commune, which mobilized immediately.
This evening at the Elysée he will receive Mgr Lebrun, Archbishop of Rouen, who was attending the World Youth Day in Krakow.
Tomorrow morning the President will convene a meeting of the Conference of Religious Leaders of France./.