Terror attack has been a reminder of our friendship with France

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

Relations between Britain and France have typically been turbulent and have even on occasions been bitter.

The two countries have been enemies numerous times over the centuries.

But it is telling that in the two biggest global conflicts of the last 100 years these two great nations were allies.

So it is no surprise that on Wednesday, and even more so yesterday, there was an outpouring of affection and support across the UK for the sudden trauma that has been experienced by the French people in the aftermath of the Paris massacre.

In addition to Wednesday’s vigils that we reported in yesterday’s edition, there were further public displays of support yesterday in cities including Belfast.

Across Britain, police paused to pay their respects to the two Parisian officers who were murdered in the terror attack.

At Westminster, hundreds of politicians from all parties held pens in the air as a symbol of freedom of expression, in light of the fact that it was a publication, the magazine Charlie Hebdo, that was targeted so brutally.

Among the other messages of support sent across the English Channel was one from the brother of murdered aid worker David Haines, who expressed his sympathy to the families of those who had lost loved ones in the assault.

The varied messages on these two pages of this newspaper are a snapshot of the response to the killings in Northern Ireland alone.

Of course Britain is only one of many, many countries in which there has been a huge display of solidarity. But the physical closeness of the UK and France and the long historical ties are such that it is no surprise that almost a million British people choose France as their permanent home.

French is probably still the most spoken second language in the UK. In every sense, people understand the words: “Je suis Charlie” and have been proud to utter them.