Secret burials for Charlie Hebdo attackers

In hopes to head of unrest in the country, France approves secret burials and bans an anti-Islamist rally

Published: Updated:

France quietly buried on Saturday the two brothers involved in the country’s worst terror attacks in decades and banned an anti-Islamist demonstration in Paris to head off possible civil unrest.

Said Kouachi, the elder of the two brothers who together gunned down 12 people Jan. 7 in their attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, was buried in the eastern city of Reims, 144 kilometers (89 miles) east of Paris.

He was buried overnight despite Reims city officials’ objections and concerns that the grave could become a shrine for extremists.

Antoine Flasaquier, a lawyer for the elder brother’s widow, said the burial took place overnight “in the greatest discretion and dignity.” Flasaquier said the widow did not attend the burial for fear she’d be followed by reporters and give away the location of the grave.

Said lived in Reims before police killed him and his brother Jan. 9. “I don’t want a grave that serves to attract fanatics. I don’t want a place that promotes hate,” Reims Mayor Arnaud Robinet said in an interview on France Info radio Thursday.

City officials say they wanted to avoid “all useless and indecent polemic” over the burial and said Kouachi would be buried in an anonymous grave “to avoid all risk of disturbance to the peace and to preserve the town’s tranquility.”

Meanwhile, a local mayor told AFP on Sunday that Cherif has been buried amid tight security outside of Paris. He was buried just before midnight Saturday at a cemetery in Gennevilliers, where he used to live, officials said.

No relatives attended the funeral and the grave is unmarked.

Earlier in the week Robinet said he’d “categorically refuse” a request by Kouachi’s family to bury Said and Cherif.

Other burial

Two other terrorists killed in shootouts with police following last week’s attacks await burial.

There has been no word of plans for burying Amedy Coulibaly, who killed five people including four hostages at a kosher market in Paris before he was killed by police Jan. 9.

The debate over the burials echoed the one nearly three years ago over Mohamed Merah, who killed three Jewish schoolchildren, a rabbi and three paratroopers in Toulouse in 2012. Then-President Nicolas Sarkozy intervened to allow the burial over the objections of Toulouse's mayor.

France bans anti-Islamist protest

Also Saturday, the Paris administrative tribunal ruled that Paris police were authorized to ban an “Islamists out of France” rally planned Sunday by two groups that promote secular and republican values.

One organizing group, “Secular Riposte,” said on its Web site that it would instead hold a news conference on Sunday. Resistance Republicaine, another organizer, said it would still hold similar rallies in the southern cities of Bordeaux and Montpellier on Sunday.