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Boston's French Community Mourns Paris Attack

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A day after French police stormed two locations in Paris in the hunt for suspected terrorists, Boston's French community gathered to remember the 17 victims of the separate attacks.

Dozens of people gathered in the sun-filled parlor of the French Cultural Center of Boston in Back Bay to show support for those mourning in Paris.

The memorial Saturday afternoon brought the Greater Boston area's French community together. A slideshow played in one room with photos of the cartoonists who died, some Charlie Hebdo cartoons and covers of the satirical magazine. In another room, filled with French language magazines and newspapers, people gathered to talk over coffee.

The memorial was meant to be somber, but still a celebration of the lives of the cartoonists and other victims, says Catheline van den Branden, president of the Cultural Center.

"The fact that people afterwards have started talking among each other and among themselves, and started reminiscing about this or that cover that they had seen — this is wonderful," she says.

These attacks hit a particular nerve in the French community living in Boston at the time of the Marathon bombings in 2013.

"The fact that we've just recently been hit by terrorism makes it that [much] more evident that we would feel a surge of sympathy for what Parisians are living through," van den Branden says.

Eleni Sacre, who lives in Belmont, attended the memorial as an act of support.

She says she wanted "to present my condolences to the family who have lost their loved ones, and [be] in solidarity with the French people and what they are experiencing now."

The Cultural Center says the memorial was a way for Francophiles in Boston to feel united.

A solidarity rally is expected Sunday on the Boston Common to coincide with unity gatherings around the world.

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