French Culture Ministry in week-long Tricolore illumination

French Culture Ministry in week-long Tricolore illumination

The French Culture Ministry is illuminating the façade of its main courtyard in the red, white and blue colours of the national flag between 5.30pm and 8.30pm local time every evening for a week in homage to the victims of last Friday’s (13th November) terrorist attacks in Paris.

This is just one in a series of tributes from the cultural world to the 129 dead and 352 wounded, as well as pledges not to give in to terrorism.

Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin, who called a meeting of the heads of all cultural establishments in the Ile-de-France region in and around Paris on Sunday (15th November), said on France Culture radio on Tuesday that "culture is a weapon of mass destruction against ignorance and obscurantism… our culture is counter-attacking right now."

The French people "have decided, despite their legitimate fear and grief, that our cultural model, our republican model, our nation is stronger than everything, and will never allow itself to be intimidated by terrorism." Terrorists "don’t like books, (so) let’s open more libraries (and) give greater access to them," she added.

All the cultural establishments remained shut over the weekend and opened again only after the one-minute silence at midday on Monday (16th November). Numerous shows and concerts were cancelled.

The French trade association of cultural product chains, Syndicat des Distributeurs de Loisirs Culturels (SDLC), said: "We continue to support culture and the circulation of ideas that are the best response to obscurantism and extremism."

Stressing that association members have taken all necessary measures to protect customers and staff, it added that faced with "those who express themselves with bombs, we defend those who express themselves through their writing, images and music."

The National Book Centre (Centre National du Livre, CNL) posted a declaration on its website, saying it was in mourning for the victims, and that "authors, publishers, bookshops, libraries among others embody the absolute right to express our opinions."

"We shall not yield to fear … we shalll not retreat. Whether atheist or believer, Muslim, Jew, Christian, or non-denominational, we are France... No-one will silence us," it said.