Fears of a potential terror attack have led to the cancellation of one of Europe’s oldest and largest street markets in the French city of Lille.
The fear of a potential terror attack has lead to the cancellation of yet another major event in a European country. The city of Lille in northern France is home to one of the oldest and largest open air markets in the world, and this summer it has been cancelled because security forces fear that it could be a potential target for Islamic State. The cancellation of the market, which is over 800 years old, could be a serious blow to the local economy, reports France 24.
Expected to attract more than 2.5 million visitors, the street market known as the Braderie de Lille is a substantial source of income for local businesses who benefit from the increased traffic to the area. In a press release on their website the organisers of the market said that due to the lack of available security the event would be cancelled for 2016.
Mayor of Lille, Martine Aubry, would not go into detail of any specific terror threats, but stated that there were “risks we cannot address”. Ms. Aubry, who ran for the French Presidency in 2012, said that: “It’s heart wrenching to make this decision.”
While the city does have access to security from armed police and drones, like the ones used at the Euro 2016 football championships, Ms. Aubry claimed that such measures would ruin the atmosphere of the street fair. “To have sharpshooters on roofs at the market, riot police on each street corner and helicopters and drones flying overhead would not be in the spirit of the market,” she said.
Some local business and union leaders have sharply criticised the decision. The head of the northern French UMIH trade and hospitality union, Thierry George, highlighted the economic impact of cancelling the event.
“It was taken without any thought for the economic impact and it’s going to be very bad for Lille’s image, especially abroad,” Mr. George said, adding: “I appreciate there is no such thing as zero risk, and that we are in a state of emergency, but we could have found a way to let the market go ahead.”
Since the terror attack on Bastille Day in Nice, French security has been even more vigilant at large public events like Cannes where backpacks have been banned. The German government is also looking to tighten security by banning backpacks at the annual Oktoberfest celebrations in late September which will mark the 500 year anniversary of the German beer purity laws. Oktoberfest is expected to attract millions to the area.