Paris attacks: Hundreds attend service in Edinburgh

Members of the public stop to read and add to a small floral tribute left outside the Cathedral. Picture: Neil Hanna

Members of the public stop to read and add to a small floral tribute left outside the Cathedral. Picture: Neil Hanna

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A MINUTE’S silence was held and prayers said across Scotland yesterday, as the nation showed its support for the victims of the Paris terror attacks.

A MINUTE’S silence was held and prayers said across Scotland yesterday, as the nation showed its support for the victims of the Paris terror attacks.

About 600 gathered for the service at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

About 600 gathered for the service at St Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

Hundreds of people, including many from the French community, attended a service in Edinburgh as tributes were held across the country.

The congregation at St Giles Cathedral, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney and French consul-general Emmanuel Cocher, observed a minute’s silence as they came together in solidarity.

Representatives of Scotland’s Muslim community joined the condemnation of the killings, saying people were “shocked at the senseless acts of wanton violence seen in Paris”.

The service at St Giles was held as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon chaired the Scottish Government’s second resilience meeting to discuss the response to the gun and bomb attacks.

What I want to say to people from France who are with us in Scotland is that our hearts are breaking for them

John Swinney

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Mr Swinney described the service as a “solemn moment for us to reflect and remember the tragedy that took place on Friday, and to remember the suffering that is endured by so many people across the world”.

He added: “What I want to say to people from France who are with us in Scotland is that our hearts are breaking for them.”

St Giles minister the Rev Calum MacLeod, who led the service, said: “We gather as a community to support each other, to worship God, feeling numb and shocked by the terrible events that happened last week, the terror acts in Beirut, and then in Paris on Friday.”

A minute's silence was held for the victims of the attacks in Paris. Picture: Neil Hanna

A minute's silence was held for the victims of the attacks in Paris. Picture: Neil Hanna

Mr Cocher said the French community had been moved by the expressions of support from Scotland.

Commenting on the impact of the attacks in France, he said: “It is so important to stress that what is at stake is staying respectful, staying cohesive and expressing the importance of love over hatred.”

The service followed a silent vigil in Glasgow on Saturday when 500 people lit candles, laid flowers and left messages of solidarity with France.

Landmarks across the country, including Edinburgh Castle, the Hydro arena in Glasgow and The Kelpies near Falkirk, were lit up in the colours of the French flag on Saturday night.

Elsewhere, rival groups of demonstrators had to be kept apart by police during a bad-tempered protest over the temporary housing of asylum seekers in a hotel near the Ayrshire village of Monkton yesterday.

READ MORE: Scotland pays tribute to France and victims in Paris

The far-right Scottish Defence League had planned to stage a rally in the centre of the village in what they say was an act of solidarity with concerned local residents, but police stopped them from entering Monkton due to fears over potential disorder.

Police also confirmed there had been instances of crime, including online abuse, that have been motivated by religious hatred since the attacks.

Muslim Council of Scotland convener Dr Javed Gill said his organisation recognised the threat posed by those behind the Paris attacks and would continue to work with the authorities in Scotland to ensure the safety of all communities.

He said “We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless violence and offer our deepest condolences to the victims.”

A book of condolence was opened with Ms Sturgeon among the first to sign it after visiting the French consulate in the capital, where dozens of floral tributes had been left. Ms Sturgeon also took part in the UK government’s resilience meeting chaired by Home Secretary Theresa May yesterday.

The First Minister said: “The terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night have shocked and horrified the nation.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with the people of France and all of those affected.

“We are continuing to work closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Police Scotland and other partners to ensure that those who have been caught up in this attack or who may be concerned about relatives have all of the advice, help and information they need.”

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