Macron hails slain policeman as symbol of ‘French resistance’

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Paris, Mar 28 : President Emmanuel Macron today hailed a policeman who sacrificed his life in an Islamist attack as a symbol of the “French spirit of resistance” and urged the nation to be vigilant in the face of an “insidious” jihadist threat.

“The name of his attacker will be forgotten, but the name of Arnaud Beltrame will live on,” Macron told a national ceremony to honour the officer, one of four victims of Friday’s shooting spree in southwestern France.

The French leader vowed to ensure “he will not have died in vain”.

“His example will remain etched in French hearts,” the president told hundreds gathered in the rain at the historic Invalides military museum and hospital in central Paris.

Beltrame, a 44-year-old member of the gendarmerie military police force, died offering to take the place of a female checkout worker whom attacker Radouane Lakdim was using as a human shield at a supermarket in the town of Trebes.

Lakdim, who claimed allegiance to the Islamic State group, had already shot dead the passenger of a car he hijacked in nearby Carcassonne, before driving to the supermarket and killing two more people there.

Beltrame hoped to be able to negotiate with the 25-year-old, but Lakdim stabbed him in the throat and the officer died of his wounds the next morning.

His coffin lay draped in the French flag on a wooden bier in the vast cobbled courtyard of Les Invalides during Wednesday’s ceremony.

Contrasting the deaths of Beltrame and his killer Macron said Lakdim had died “a cowardly death obtained through the murder of innocents”.

After the worst attack of his presidency so far, he urged heightened vigilance against Islamic extremists who have claimed more than 240 lives in France over the past three years, including the massacres in Paris and Nice.

“We are not just fighting terrorist groups, the armies of Daesh and imams who preach hate and death,” Macron said, using another name for the Islamic State group.

France is also facing a form of “underground Islamism” that “corrupts on a daily basis”, he said, blasting it as “an insidious enemy which requires renewed vigilance and civic-mindedness from every citizen”.

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