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Europe Pays Tribute To Madrid Bombing Victims

March 15, 2004

From Paris to Prague and Sweden to Spain, Europeans honored the 200 people killed in the Madrid train bombings by observing three minutes of silence at noon on Monday.

Europe remembers the victims of Thursday's bombins.Image: AP

When the clocks struck midday in Spain, Europeans across the continent stopped their work to pay tribute to the victims of last Thursday's bomb attacks in Madrid. For three minutes, countries both inside and outside the European Union joined in a moment of silence.

The show of solidarity, initiated by Ireland, which holds the rotating EU presidency, recalled the outpouring of sympathy Europe demonstrated after the September 11, 2001, attacks in the United States.

"It will demonstrate our collective sense of solidarity with Spain and its people and our steadfast determination to fight the scourge of terrorism which threatens all of our basic freedoms," Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said.

In Germany, Interior Minister Otto Schily called on all citizens to show their solidarity with the Spaniards and pause to remember the 200 people who died in one of the worst terrorist attacks to hit Europe in recent years. Flags across the country continued to fly at half mast since Friday. And Chancellor Gerhard Schröder opened a party meeting with the Social Democrats by standing in silence, head bowed.

In France. Local authorities sounded sirens at 11:00 GMT (noon local time). In Italy, the silent tribute was observed in all public buildings and schools.

Soon-to-be member states Lithuania and the Czech Republic also joined in the moment of silence. "I call upon Lithuanian people, wherever they are at the moment -- on the streets, at home or elsewhere to honor victims of Spain's tragedy with three minutes of silence," Prime Minister Algirdas Brazauskas urged of his countrymen.