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Hollande announces slavery memorial in last speech as president

Eric Feferberg, AFP | French President François Hollande talks at a ceremony marking the abolition of slavery, at the Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris on May 10, 2017.

In his likely final speech as president, François Hollande called on France to fight hate speech and announced a new working group that will be put in charge of designing a memorial and a museum for victims of slavery.

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Speaking at a ceremony in Paris to commemorate the abolition of slavery, and accompanied by French President-elect Emmanuel Macron, Hollande warned France not to forget the “darker” moments of its long history.

“It’s not about opposing one kind of suffering to another,” the outgoing president said. “We are gathered here today to prevent the worst from ever happening again… We must continue fighting the kind of language that pits one people against another.”

Recalling former president Jacques Chirac’s wish to create a place of remembrance for the victims of slavery, Hollande said a foundation dedicated to that cause would be established in Paris next year and be presided over by Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The foundation will be based in the building that was once home to France’s Ministry for the Navy and Colonies, and where the French abolitionist and politician Victor Schoelcher signed the decree ending slavery in the French colonies in 1848.

“The foundation will work with the City of Paris to build a monument and a museum dedicated to the memory of slavery,” Hollande said.

 

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