PARIS (AP) — Paris celebrated on Monday the 70th anniversary of its liberation after four years in the grip of the occupying Nazis, with President Francois Hollande saying France now has a moral obligation to answer the call of those under the boot of dictators or barbarism like the Islamic State group that has conquered large swaths of Syria and Iraq.
In a speech at Paris’ ornate City Hall, Hollande said the uprising of the citizens of Paris a week before the Aug. 25, 1944, liberation has a modern-day message for those fighting dictatorships, trying to preserve democracy or calling for help.
“It is from Paris that democracies seek protection from terror. It is to Paris that today the Iraqi people and all the minorities persecuted by the barbarous Islamic State turn,” Hollande said.
“We must answer those calls. Our history commands it,” he said.
France has furnished Iraqi Kurds with weapons to better fight the Islamic State group going after Christians and Yazidi minorities in the area and taken in dozens of Yazidis.
The French president also updated the message of the Paris Liberation for “people in Europe who despair at this time,” as nations like France confront zero growth, high unemployment and unpopular measures to put the country back on its feet.
Hollande made no reference to an announcement from his office earlier in the day that Prime Minister Manuel Valls has been instructed to form a new government by Tuesday following criticism of its economic policies by the economy minister.
A steady rain drummed down on the festivities which included a sound and light show recounting the liberation of the French capital as American troops of the 4th American Infantry Division and the 2nd French Armored Division rolled into Paris amid chaotic gunfire of Germans making a last stand and jubilation of Parisians seeing an end to hunger, humiliation and fear.
Paris City Hall was awash in the blue, white and red of the French Tricolor, and Hollande underscored the role Parisians had played in taking to the barricades in a rebellion against German rule.
“France, in ruin, found the strength to redress itself,” he said.