French hero Ahmed Merabet, a 40-year-old police officer who was killed while attempting to stop the terrorists behind last week’s Charlie Hedbo attack, was laid to rest on Tuesday. The Muslim officer was one of millions of Islamic practitioners around the world who refuse to silently allow their religion to be high-jacked by terrorists. Before his burial in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, Merabeta and the 2 other officers killed in the attack where awarded France’s highest honors from French President Francois Hollande.

The Légion d’Honneur was posthumously bestowed upon the fallen heroes during a national tribute, during which President Hollande described Merabet as a symbol of the “diversity of France’s forces of law and order.” He also stressed of the fallen hero, “Ahmed Merabet knew better than anyone that radical Islam has nothing to do with Islam and that fanaticism kills Muslims.”

The President bowed for several seconds before each of the three caskets, after declaring, “In the name of the French Republic we make you a Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur.” After each officer had been honored, 60 seconds of silence were observed for the fallen heroes. Afterwards a military band played La Marseillaise, the national anthem of France.

The officer was laid to rest Tuesday afternoon following services held at a  Bobigny mosque. Hundreds of mourners, some with placards reading #JesuisAhmed, assembled to show their support for the fallen hero. A crowd of friends, relatives, and supporters carried his coffin, which was decorated with the French flag, his képi (police hat), and the Légion d’Honneur badge awarded by the president.

Yamina Zanasni, a long time friend of Merabet told journalists, “I have lost a friend, a kind, respectful, helpful friend. He is a hero.”

“The whole of France shares your sorrow and your pain. Clarissa, Franck, Ahmed, died so we can live free,” President Hollande said during the tribute.

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