Hollande surprise visit to Paris mosque, a year after Charlie Hebdo attack

, 5:10 PM IST

Paris: A year after terrorist attacks in the French capital. French President Francois Hollande paid a surprised visit to the main mosque in Paris on Sunday.

“The president had a short conversation and a moment of friendship and fraternity over a cup of tea,” a French presidency official said.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, also visited the mosque. He said France needs more than ever, “the engagement of all Muslims.” He also warned that “the self-proclaimed preachers of hate” in mosques would be dealt with severely.

Francois also attended a low-key event to mark a year since 1.5 million people thronged Paris in a show of unity following the shootings at Charlie Hebdo newspaper and a Jewish supermarket.

All the Mosques in France opened their doors to the public this weekend in a bid by the Muslim community to build bridges following a series of jihadist attacks that rocked France in 2015.

President Hollande and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo laid a wreath and unveiled a commemorative plaque near a newly planted oak tree. The Place de la Republique, a vast square in eastern Paris, has become an informal memorial and a rallying point for free speech and democratic values after the attacks. Candles, flowers and pictures of the victims lined the base of the Marianne statue, a symbol of the French republic.