Former president Jacques Chirac gets full military honors as France bids him farewell

French President Emmanuel Macron, right, walks behind as French Republican guards carry the flag-draped coffin of late president Jacques Chirac during a military tribute on Monday, September 30, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 30 September 2019

Former president Jacques Chirac gets full military honors as France bids him farewell

  • French President Emmanuel Macron presides over the ceremony near the site of Napoleon’s tomb in the courtyard of Les Invalides

PARIS: Former French President Jacques Chirac was given full military honors Monday as past and current world leaders gathered in Paris to attend his final service.
Cutting a solemn figure, French President Emmanuel Macron presided over the ceremony on a mild, sunny morning near the site of Napoleon’s tomb in the courtyard of Les Invalides. A military band played the national anthem, “La Marseillaise,” before Macron inspected the troops. Chirac’s casket, covered with a Tricolor flag, was then carried to the center of the courtyard.
Macron, who did not speak, later attended a memorial service at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in downtown Paris alongside dozens of French politicians and foreign officials, including Russian President Vladimir Putin, former US President Bill Clinton, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Jordan’s King Abdallah II.
Chirac’s coffin was driven to Saint-Sulpice, where pianist Daniel Barenboim played a Schubert impromptu, as mourners lined the procession route to his funeral service. When the hearse carrying Chirac drove by, the crowd broke into applause.
Standing outside of the Invalides, Nathalie Kabongo, whose husband worked on Chirac’s 1995 and 2002 campaigns, said Chirac reminded her of “a politics closer to the people.”
“Apart from being president, he was a man (...), a warm man, a man close to people, smiling and with a heart,” she said. “We need that sometimes.”
Those assembled took pictures, shed tears and held signs reading “Thank you for saying no to the war in Iraq” as they watched the flag-draped coffin onscreen.
Max Mignard, who came to pay his respects, described Chirac as the “kindest man in politics.”
A private family church service for Chirac was celebrated prior to the military tribute and a private funeral was taking place later at the Montparnasse cemetery. A minute of silence was being held in schools and public buildings across the country Monday on France’s national day of mourning for its former leader.
A mainstay of French politics over four decades, Chirac served as Paris mayor, a lawmaker, prime minister and France’s president from 1995 to 2007. The last French head of state to complete two terms in office, Chirac died last week at 86.
Known for championing the nation’s sense of its own grandeur and opposing the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, Chirac is being remembered fondly despite political failures and a 2011 corruption conviction from actions during his nearly two decades as mayor of Paris. As president from 1995-2007, he was a consummate global diplomat but failed to reform the French economy or defuse tensions between police and minority youths, which exploded into riots across France in 2005.
Once nicknamed “Super Liar,” Chirac’s popularity soared after he left office. Thousands of mourners paid him tribute Sunday at Les Invalides, where his body lay in state on the eve of the memorial service.
“He was a great man who had an absolute fantastic class in all circumstances,” said Nadine Prevost, who was among the Saint-Sulpice mourners. “He knew how to speak to everyone with a simplicity and a grandeur. And that’s what made for the richness of his contact.”


Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

Updated 23 February 2020

Protests in New Delhi against India’s citizenship law ahead of Trump visit

  • Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it
  • The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India

NEW DELHI: Police used tear gas to disperse large crowds in India’s capital of New Delhi on Sunday in the latest eruption of violence at protests over a new citizenship law, police officials said.
Hundreds of people supporting the new law clashed with those opposing it, with the two groups pelting each other with stones in the Maujpur area in the northeastern part of the city, according to television footage.
“There must be some miscreants who want to spoil the peace in the area. We will identify them and take action against them,” Alok Kumar, a senior Delhi police official, told reporters about the protest.
“The situation is under control now,” he added.
The protest comes just a day before US President Donald Trump begins a two-day visit to India, where he is expected to raise the issue of religious freedom in the country with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which eases the path for non-Muslims from neighboring Muslim-majority nations to gain citizenship, has triggered weeks of sometimes violent protests against Modi’s government.
The Indian law is seen by opponents as discriminating against Muslims and has deepened concerns that Modi’s administration is undermining India’s secular traditions.
Modi’s ruling Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party denies any bias against the country’s 180 million Muslims.
On Sunday, a separate protest also erupted in the northern Indian city of Aligarh, where protesters threw stones at the police, state administration official Chandra Bhushan Singh said.
The Internet in the area had been suspended until midnight, he added.