The memorial event was organised by the Global Organisation for People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) France Métropole, in association with the Indian Embassy in Paris on 15 September 2018, and included the rekindling of the flame of the Arc de Triomphe in memory of those who died for France. The ceremony paid tribute in particular to South Asian troops who fought during World War I, and took place at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées in central Paris.
The Ambassador of India in France, in the presence of senior French authorities, the Indian diaspora from various countries, as well as several civil society associations, including the Ismaili Council for France, rekindled the flame of the nation. Special guests included Alexandra Cordebard, mayor of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, and Rémi Féraud, a current senator for Paris.
As the Indian subcontinent — along with parts of Persia and Central Asia — was part of the British Empire at the time, the soldiers of the British Raj were deployed in France, and made a significant contribution fighting alongside their allies.
Since 2015, the South Asian community of France has paid tribute annually to the Indian troops who fought during World War I and to the thousands of men and women who gave their lives a century ago on different fronts. The rekindling of the flame at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier is thus a fitting symbol, which represents the recognition for all who fought alongside France during the war from 1914-1918.
All guests at the memorial event came together to pledge commitment to the values of peace and democracy. President of the Ismaili Council for France Shamir Samdjee spoke of the ethics of tolerance and pluralism during his remarks of tribute, saying “Memory is important to transmit for future generations. It is also a call to our responsibility to promote the peace and development of our respective countries.”
The Jamat’s participation marked a valuable recognition of the Ismaili community in France, as a important contributor to the development of civil society in the country and region.