Police raid a kosher supermarket in Paris .
(photo credit: COURTESY OF BFMTV)
PARIS – The Hyper Cacher market, site of the January 9 terrorist attack in Paris, reopened Sunday.
The confrontation between terrorist Amedy Coulibaly and the special police units, and the following evacuation of the dead and wounded, have left physical marks inside and outside the store.
The shop, which had been closed ever since the massacre took place, has since become a commemoration place of a sorts, with letters, flowers, candles and banners attached to the barriers surrounding the place ever since.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve was one of the first to arrive at the reopening.
“It was important for me, at this moment when the shop, so courageously, reopens its doors, sending a message that life is stronger [than any act of terrorism], to be present here together with the representatives of the [Jewish] community, with the operators of the shop and elected representatives. I am here to say that we are all standing firm, determined to continue living freely in our country.’’ The shop front has been given new window panes and now carries a large bright sign with the name Hyper Cacher in red letters. The inside has also been restored, with new floors, new shelfs and also a new staff. None of the employees at the time of the massacre has come back to work in the shop. The owner explained to the press earlier in the day that they are all still undergoing psychological treatment, and won’t resume their positions at the supermarket. They will be located to other branches around the city.
Hundreds of Jews, from the 20th Paris neighborhood, but also from the city’s other neighborhoods and suburbs, kept arriving during the day to visit Hyper Cacher.
Laurence, in her thirties, came early in the morning with her husband and young daughter.
“We are buying just a few groceries today. We will come back tomorrow for more. Today it’s really out of solidarity,” she told The Jerusalem Post. “We live here, in the neighborhood, and we have come to show that we are not afraid. That they can’t scare us. We will continue living our lives and continue to buy kosher.”
When asked about her feelings to do her errands with police surrounding the store, Laurence said they were determined to keep coming here, though “in the past I used to send my little kids from time to time to the kosher shops in the neighborhoods, to buy a bottle of milk or some eggs,” she said. “Now I don’t send them alone anymore. I do the shopping myself.’’ Another couple, Jean and Babette, said they live in a suburb on the other side of the city, but felt it was important to come to this place today.
“Everyone must see that French Jews are at home here,” they said. “We will live a normal life and we won’t be scared off. We will come to this shop and buy our groceries here even if we have other shops closer by. We will not forget the people who died here, just for being Jews.
Just for buying kosher food. And we will not let others forget that either.’’ Maxim and William, two young men in their twenties, said they live in the neighborhood. They also think that buying groceries here is a bold act.
“After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, I went out and bought a copy of the newspaper.
I stood in line with hundreds of other French people to buy it,” said Maxim. “I am not especially keen of Charlie Hebdo’s stance on the [Prophet Muhammad] caricatures or other things, but this had no importance. What was important was solidarity with the victims and with the values of the French people.
“Here it is the same. I believe that everyone must come to the shop. Even Jews who do not keep kosher, or people who are not Jews. It is a question of solidarity and defending our freedom.’’ William agreed. He says life has changed for Jews in France.
“We are used to sending the children to schools protected by the police, to see the military at the gates of the synagogues.
Here, you have the police all over the place. It is no different here,” he said. “It is not normal, of course. It should not be like that. But on the other hand, we are grateful for their presence and feel that they are committed to protecting us.”
Hyper Cacher has opened just in time for Passover. Many of the customers filled their carts with kosher for Passover items.
“Let’s hope that the coming Passover brings us freedom,” Laurence said on her way out. “The freedom to live here openly as Jews.”