SCOTLAND stands “shoulder to shoulder” with France in the wake of the deadly attack on a satirical magazine which killed 12 people, the First Minister said.
As a nationwide manhunt continues in France for those responsible for the killings at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris, Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland is united with its long-standing ally in condemning the “atrocity”.
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Masked gunmen armed with Kalashnikov rifles burst into the offices yesterday morning and opened fire indiscriminately.
The magazine, which lampoons politicians and religions, has received repeated threats and was fire-bombed in 2011 after publishing a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed.
The terrorist attack sparked horror across the world and was condemned by global leaders as an attack on free speech.
Police in France are also searching for the perpetrator of a separate shooting in which a policewoman was killed just outside Paris this morning. It is unclear whether there is any link between the two incidents.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Today as we see further tragic developments take place we stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of France, united in our condemnation of yesterday’s atrocity, deeply saddened by the tragic loss of life and absolutely steadfast in our defence of the fundamental freedoms that we all cherish so much.”
She described the links between France and Scotland as being “long standing and strong”, adding that Holyrood has a French-born member in SNP MSP Christian Allard.
The First Minister told MSPs that she had spoken to the Consul General of France this morning and “conveyed to him Scotland’s condolences to and solidarity with the people of his country”.
She added: “I’ve also instructed that flags on Scottish Government buildings will fly at half-mast for the remainder of today as a mark of respect.”
The French flag is also being flown at half-mast in Glasgow today.
Council leader Gordon Matheson said: We are flying the flag of France at half-mast from the City Chambers today as a mark of respect for those who have died and to show our solidarity with the people of France and journalists everywhere.
“This was a brutal attack on democracy and freedom of expression and Glasgow unites in unequivocal condemnation. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones.
“The murderous actions of perverse and unrepresentative extremists will never overcome a free press which is so fundamental to the values of a democratic society.”
Mr Allard has written to the French consulate in Edinburgh and also lodged a motion at Holyrood to give fellow MSPs an opportunity to pay their respects.
The North East Scotland MSP said: “My thoughts are with the people of France following the terrible events at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris. I very much hope the French authorities manage to find those responsible as soon as possible.
“I know that all of Scotland will today be thinking of the injured and the families of the journalists and the police officer who have lost their lives in these tragic circumstances. Yesterday evening I went along to the French consulate in Edinburgh to take part in a minute’s silence and was humbled by the number of people there to pay their respects.
“I have since written to the French consulate and am today lodging a motion in the Scottish Parliament to give fellow members the opportunity to join together and express their sincere condolences.
“I very much hope that the people of France can take some comfort from the world wide message of solidarity that has since been expressed. Aujourd’hui, en Ecosse, nous sommes tous Charlie (Today, in Scotland, we are all Charlie).”
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