France is in grief and shock as she mourns the death of French national Herve Gourdel, 55, who was beheaded Thursday by a terrorist group in Algeria. The deadly sect split from al-Qaida and pledgedallegiance to the Islamic State group two weeks ago.
Across France, flags were at half-mast and will continue to be throughout the weekend as President Francois Hollande has declared three days of mourning for the murdered mountain guide.
Last Friday, France joined the U.S. in conducting airstrikes on the Islamic State group in Iraq. The Islamic State group called on Muslims to attack foreign targets,
The algerian ISIS-linked militants who calls itself "Jund al-Khilafah", or "Soldiers of the Caliphate," captured the mountain guide from Nice Sunday night while he hiking with five other people in the Djura Djura mountains of northern Algeria. This came just one day after he arrived in Algeria for a 10-day walking holiday. While his Algerian companions were released, Gourdel kidnapped Gourdel in response to the call to kill the "spiteful and filthy French.".
A video featuring the French hostage was first released online showing masked gunmen who stood over the French tourist who was on his knees. They pledged their allegiance to the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and said they were fighting his enemies. The militants also threatened to kill the their victim within hours unless France stopped bombing ISIS targets in Iraq by the end of the day.
On Thursday, another video showing the captive pushed to the ground and blindfolded before he was beheaded appeared online . The video is similar to those from the Islamic State group, which killed two American journalists and a British aid worker in recent weeks.
On Thursday evening, in the southern Alpine village of Saint-Martin-Vesubie, where Gourdel worked as a mountain guide, more than 800 people including school students and other guides marched in memory of the Gourdel. Three imams also took part in the march past his office, stopping at times to light candles or lay flowers down.
|Herve Gourdel's grieving widow|
The friends of Herve Gourdel's son Erwan and Henri Giuge (right), mayor of Saint-Martin-Vesubie, take part in a gathering to pay tribute.
|The friends of Herve Gourdel's son Erwan and Henri Giuge (right), mayor of Saint-Martin-Vesubie dans les rues de St-Martin-Vésubie, en hommage|
|Marche silencieuse et solennelle, dans les rues de St-Martin-Vésubie, en hommage|
|Une photo d'Hervé Gourdel a été affichée sur la mairie de Saint-Martin-Vésubie|
One French woman said: “Today the mountains are in grief. France is in grief, humanity is in grief. So it was important for us to be here today.”
Across the French capital, thousands of Muslims came out in solidarity to pay tribute to Gourdel and protest against the Islamic State, which many insist does not represent their religion.
Imams and ordinary Muslims gathered outside the Paris Mosque after Friday prayers to condemn the execution. They expressed condolences, denounced the "barbarism" of Islamic State militants and carried placards stating: "Not in My Name".