Hundreds of people gathered in a quiet town outside Paris on Friday to pay hommage to a police employee targeted in the latest jihadist terror attack to strike France.
Prime Minister Jean Castex led a poignant ceremony for Stephanie Monferme, who was posthumously awarded the Legion of Honour in Rambouillet, where she was stabbed to death at a police station on April 23.
“She was at home everywhere here, where everyone knew her by her first name,” Castex said before placing France‘s highest civilian award on a royal blue cushion in a front of a black-and-white photo of the victim.
After a minute of silence under grey skies, a military band played La Marseillaise, the national anthem.
“Fanaticism is a monster that pretends to be the child of religion,” Castex said, citing Voltaire and calling Monferme’s death “an unacceptable wound for the nation”.
“Your colleague was murdered because she served her country,” he added, addressing police.
Her attacker, a 36-year-old Tunisian man identified as Jamel Gorchene, was shot and killed by an officer at the Rambouillet police station. He had no police record and was unknown to intelligence services.
Witnesses say he shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is Greatest) as he struck, and investigators later found he had watched jihadist videos on his phone moments before the attack.
The government this week unveiled a new anti-terror law aimed at helping authorities identify potential Islamist attackers, amid wider concerns about security ahead of next year’s presidential vote.
Far-right leader Marine Le Pen, who has assailed President Emmanuel Macron with claims he has not done enough to halt immigration, was among politicians of all stripes who attended the ceremony.
Macron was not present but attended a private funeral for Monferme on Thursday.
More than 250 people have been killed in jihadist terror attacks on French soil since 2015, with security forces often targeted.