06.12 - Speech by Mr. Nicolas Sarkozy, President of the Republic in commemoration of the Mumbai attacks
The Oberoi, Mumbai – Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Your Excellency the Governor of Maharashtra,
My dear compatriots,
Here, in this very place, on the evening of November 26, 2008, our fellow citizens, Loumia and Mourad Amarsy—beloved and respected in both India and France—were cravenly assassinated by terrorists.
It was the evening when horror descended on this city, which was ravaged by attacks comparable to those of September 11, 2001, in the United States. The terrorists set upon innocent crowds, selecting their targets in order to kill as many people as possible and to spread terror and death everywhere. The massacres at the Chhatrapati Shivaji train station, Cama Hospital, Chabad House, Leopold Cafe, and the Taj, Oberoi and Trident hotels killed 166 people and left hundreds injured. For three days, the terrorists occupied the hotels and Chabad House, taking their occupants hostage and sowing a path of destruction. Guided by accomplices abroad using cutting edge communications, they thwarted the efforts of public order until the final assault. Thus was technology placed in the service of savagery and fanaticism. These attacks will remain forever engraved in our memories. France will never forget this martyred city.
Let me tell you solemnly : that we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with India to ensure that justice is served. We all know how these attacks were conceived, how they were planned and how they were financed.
Those responsible for these murders equipped, trained and directed at a distance the terrorist squad in Mumbai.
The Mumbai attacks proved that terrorism is nothing more than a criminal activity. Terrorism claims to act for political or religious aims. The truth is that terrorists are savages and terrorism savagery. Terrorism claims to serve ideals ; it abuses them in deed. For all of us, who are explicitly threatened by Al-Qaeda, seeking to protect ourselves from attacks isn’t enough : we must find ways to prevent their recurrence.
It is not acceptable that India’s security be threatened by terrorist groups based in neighboring territories. It is not acceptable for Afghanistan or for our troops that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda take refuge in Pakistan’s border regions. We know what a heavy toll terrorism takes on the Pakistani people themselves. It is not acceptable for the world that terrorist attacks be planned or carried out by groups trained in Pakistan.
The Indian Prime Minister exhibited remarkable restraint in the days following the Mumbai attacks, and is steadfastly conducting a policy of dialogue with Pakistan, which we support.
France deeply values its relations with Pakistan. But a democratic, stable and prosperous Pakistan. No fate condemns Pakistan to be the victim and crucible of global terrorism. I am counting on all the Pakistani authorities to step up their efforts and demonstrate their resolve against the criminals.
France, which has itself been subjected to constant threats and blackmail by Islamist terrorists, to which it will not yield, France is determined to step up its efforts to eradicate this scourge.
The first requirement is international cooperation. Total, unfettered cooperation. Terrorism must be universally outlawed. There can be no sanctuary for terrorists.
The international agreements governing the fight against various forms of terrorism must be implemented with stringency and determination.
Cooperation among the police and the judiciary must be ramped up. Nothing is worse than the terrorists’ exploitation of the weakness of our cooperation systems.
We and the Indian Prime Minister have made this issue a priority, and I can say there will be no limit to the operational cooperation between India and France in the fight against terrorism.
We are determined to conduct this effort against terrorism while strictly abiding by our values and the rule of law. Renouncing them, adopting exceptional legislation or inhumane methods, would in a way be playing into the terrorists’ hands by abdicating our dignity. You cannot fight terrorism with terrorists’ methods.
Beyond this immediate action, the community of nations must now ask why, within a few years, terrorism has become such a scourge ; why young people can be irresistibly drawn toward this barbarous form of supposedly political or supposedly religious action ; how educated people to whom life seemed to offer so much can become candidates for massacres and suicide. As unpardonable as they may be, these crimes cannot dispense us from raising such questions.
What is going on ? Is it a reaction against shattered cultural identities ? A perverse backlash against the injustices of today’s world ? Without making any excuses for terrorism, the spread of this scourge must spur us to do more to correct the most blatant injustices and most obvious abuses.
Together, France and India—both proponents of humanism, both devoted to peace, both aware of the need to respect different cultures and diversity—must be the standard-bearers of this message.
My dear compatriots, I am pleased that Mumbai was able to tend its wounds in such a short time and His Excellency the Governor resume its forward march. I am pleased and even proud that so many French, so many of our companies are coming here to participate in the fantastic adventure of India’s development.
Mumbai remains this magnificent Gateway to India, open to the world, the country’s economic capital. It is a cosmopolitan metropolis that should look to the future with optimism.
During the Mumbai attacks, hundreds of foreigners including many French men and women were saved by the heroism of the staff at the Taj, Trident and Oberoi.
Today, I would like to express France and India’s solidarity against terrorism. And I wish to express France’s gratitude to these Indians who were so brave.
In honoring the directors of the Oberoi and Taj Mahal hotels at the time of the attacks, I would like to offer my own heartfelt tribute to all those who helped—sometimes at risk of their own lives—to save the lives of our citizens.
Mr. Devendra Bharma, executive vice president of the Oberoi and Trident Hotels of Mumbai, you welcomed me to Delhi in January 2008. I am well aware of your personal efforts and those of your staff in Mumbai during those tragic days. You made decisions that saved hundreds of lives.
Mr. Karambir Kang, former general manager of the Hotel Taj Mahal,
You did not hesitate for a moment to put your own life in danger to save your hotel guests. France wishes to thank you and so I will now present you with the insignia of Officer of the National Order of Merit.