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Paris cleans symbolic statue

Paris cleans symbolic statue

PARIS: Paris city workers on Tuesday set to scrubbing a monumental bronze statue which has become a battered rallying point for France’s secular republic after a string of terror attacks.

The 133-year-old statue of Marianne, a symbol of the French republic, is situated on one of Paris’s largest squares, the Place de la Republique, which has become a nerve centre for mourners and protesters.

On Tuesday morning workers clad in white overalls cordoned off the statue with barriers, removing the decaying flowers, torn messages of peace and candles that had piled up around its base.

They then set to tackling graffiti which has covered the pedestal of the statue, a large stone structure bearing three sculptures symbolising the national motto Liberte, Fraternite and Egalite (Liberty, Fraternity and Equality).

“It is sad, but I think it is also a good thing to erase Paris’s sadness. It will be good for us,” said Kheira, a 46-year-old psychologist and Muslim, wearing a bright red veil.

She said she felt “stressed and anxious,” after attacks last month in which a priest was killed in a suburb of the northwestern city of Rouen and a jihadist ploughed a truck into a crowd in Nice, killing 84 people.

“This is a page that is turning, and I hope it is a real page, to really ease the sadness of Parisians,” she said, watching the cleaning operation under gentle rainfall.

“I think the city needs to clean it, however it will remain a place of gathering for all Parisians affected by the attacks,” said Thibaut Chaize, 32, who stopped to watch the cleaning on his way to work as a technical manager.

“Some of the graffiti is not very attractive so it must be cleaned.”

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2016

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