Approximately six hundred people joined the peaceful gathering at Erasmus Plaza on Monday, in honour of the victims of the terrorist attacks on Paris. A group of French students had organized the event on campus Woudestein. There was a speech from rector Huib Pols, a minute of silence and lots of candles.

First year student IBA Antoine Gianotta and Master student Alexander Larose didn’t know each other until last weekend. The French students seperately took the initiative to hold a commemoration gathering at the university.  When they learned of each other’s plans, they decided to join forces. With good results, because an estimated six hundred students and employees came together to commemorate the victims of IS in Paris and other places in the world.

Not just Paris

“Today, we don’t just remember the victims in Paris, but also those in Beirout and Egypt: everyone can be affected by this terror”, Gianotta said, while he was handing out candles to the students and employees. “When I created the event on Facebook, it took less than 30 minutes to get 30 applications. And the support didn’t just came from French people. That was really touching.”

Larose was living in San Francisco during the terror strikes on Charlie Hebdo in january. He went to a spontaneous commemoration there, that made a deep impression on him. When he heard about the strikes in his home country, he decided to create a Facebook event himself.  “And it wasn’t supposed to be just for the French, I wanted it to be truly international. We’re all in this together.”

'We share the same values'

Rector Huib Pols gave a speech to the crowd. “Tonight, we are here to support our friends. We share the same values, that are expressed in the French motto: Liberté, Egalité en Fraternité. We should be united in peace. Let us be silent for one minute.”

After the moment of silence, people from the crowd started lighting candles and placed flowers against the wall of the Erasmus Pavillion.


'Banger dan hiervoor'

Antoine Gianotta is opgelucht dat alles rustig is verlopen. “Wat ik hoop dat mensen er van meenemen? Misschien zullen ze er niet alle dagen aan denken, maar hopelijk blijft het in hun hoofd zitten dat je eenheid met elkaar kunt vinden en je ideeën niet bestrijdt met bommen.”

Alexander Larose staat na afloop nog wat na te trillen. “Deze aanslagen waren zo willekeurig; iedereen kan slachtoffer worden. Ja, ik ben nu banger dan hiervoor, en dat bevalt me niet. Dat is precies wat terrorisme doet: verdeling teweegbrengen en angst zaaien. Ik was toch bang dat er vandaag iets kon gebeuren, en heb goed gekeken naar de mensen die aan kwamen lopen. Zo, en nu ga ik naar het sportgebouw, even lekker kickboksen om het kwijt te raken.”