French-Algerian police officer killed in Charlie Hebdo attacks buried
Ahmed Merabet, a police officer gunned down in cold blood by the gunmen who targeted Charlie Hebdo’s offices last week, was buried on Tuesday.
Merabet’s coffin, draped in a huge French flag, was carried to the grave by solemn marchers in Bobigny, a town just north-east of Paris.
Merabet, a French police officer born to Algerian immigrants, was on his last day of bicycle duty last Wednesday, when Said and Cherif Kouachi attacked the offices of Charlie Hebdo.
A graphic video captured the moment when one of the brothers, after shooting and injuring Merabet, walked over and shot him at point-blank range in the head.
Merabet's partner Morgane Ahmad, whom he was due to move in with, later criticised the media for showing the video - she first learned of his death from rolling news coverage of the event.
His death attracted worldwide attention, with many pointing out that Merabet, a practicing Muslim, was killed at the hands of extremists purporting to follow the same faith.
Merabet’s coffin was decorated with his police cap and a Legion of Honour badge placed there by French President Francois Hollande during an official ceremony in Paris on Tuesday morning.
The sombre ceremony, held at the police headquarters in the capital, commemorated the three officers killed in a spate of attacks that rocked France to its core last week.
“The three officers represented the diversity of France," Hollande said in a speech. “They died so that we can live in freedom."
After the service in Paris, Merabet’s coffin was returned to Bobigny, where it was met by hundreds of mourners, some of them carrying placards bearing the slogan #JeSuisAhmed.
Merabet’s family have echoed Hollande’s message of coexistence and tolerance in their statements after learning of the death of Ahmed, who would have turned 41 last Thursday, a day after he was gunned down.
"Islam is a religion of peace, love and sharing. It's not about terrorism, it's not about madness,” Merabet’s brother Malek said at a press conference last week.
"My brother was a Muslim and he was killed by people pretending to be Muslims. They are terrorists – that's it.
"Don’t tar everyone with the same brush; don't burn mosques – or synagogues. It won't bring our dead back and it won't appease the families."