Life goes on in Paris, but fear and shock still linger after attacks

With police and army patrolling the streets, Paris residents feel reassured and "more secure."

November 22, 2015 08:28
4 minute read.
The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris

The Eiffel Tower is seen at sunset in Paris. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Paris is still trying to come to terms with the deadly attacks of last week, as a fresh security alert brought Brussels to a standstill on Saturday.

As the flowers and messages of sympathy and solidarity continued to be brought to the sites where 130 people were killed in the series of coordinated attacks on Friday 13th, people struggled with the concept of getting back to normal life.

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"I'm really concerned about really living and being free to go everywhere, this is something I am really concerned about. I live in the suburbs and people ask a lot, 'why do you live there, is it safe?'. Well it's France, so why should it not be safe? And I'm not even only talking about terrorists attacks, but just day to day life, I am a woman, I want to come back late at night, I want to be able to walk freely and go everywhere..." said Rosenne Letriyonaire as she and her boyfriend read messages of condolence at the makeshift shrine which is growing around the statue on Place de la Republique, which has become the symbol of French solidarity.

Marie Lebisquot who was also there said she feared that the attacks would continue.

"I think it must continue, because I am sure there will be some more attacks, I am just sure about it, but we don't know when, we don't know where, we don't know how. So we just can't stop living, waiting for this to happen, we just have to carry on."

Indeed, Belgium put the capital Brussels on maximum security alert on Saturday, shutting the metro and warning people to avoid crowds because of a "serious and imminent" threat of coordinated, multiple attacks by militants.

Tanja Beleste, who was lighting the candles which the rain had put out at the Bataclan memorial site, where 89 people were shot in a concert hall said France needed to think about its values of 'liberty', solidarity and brotherhood - especially trying to live together and stand together in the face of these new threats.


"Because we have new risks now, and I want to bring these values ahead of the others, but also liberty, the freedom to live. I would also like to say that I am thinking also about those in Mali who died yesterday, about the young women taken hostage by Boko Haram, about the children in Pakistan, about all the victims, those in Paris, but those all around the world. The killing, it takes away a little bit of life as we know it."

After the Paris the bombings and shootings carried out by Islamic State militants, of whom one suspect from Brussels is at large, Brussels was placed on the top level "four" in the government's threat scale after a meeting of police, justice and intelligence officials.

Soldiers were put on guard in parts of Brussels as they have been all week in Paris, with particular focus on areas where people might gather, institutions and tourist attractions.

The Eiffel Tower was emptier than usual as soldiers patrolled around and military and police security was highly visible at the Louvre Museum.

Crisis centers in both Brussels and Paris advised the public to avoid places with crowds, such as shopping centers, concerts, sports events or public transport hubs.

Fugitive suspected militant Salah Abdeslam, 26, slipped back home to Brussels from Paris shortly after the attacks, in which his elder brother Brahim blew himself up at a cafe. Fears of the risks he still poses prompted the cancellation last week of an international friendly soccer match in Brussels against Spain.

But that didn't stop Parisians from doing their Christmas shopping - far from deterred by the sight of armed-police and soldiers patrolling the boulevards of Paris, they said they felt assured by it.

Quentin Roque said he wasn't scared after the attacks: "No not really, thanks to just that, to the army and the police gendarmes who are patrolling, no, I feel more secure at the moment."

"No, I am not afraid," said another shopper, Fatma. "There are police everywhere, so there, we feel secure, when you see them you feel secure, so it is reassuring to see the police and the security."

"Honestly, fear, no. No, I am not afraid, because that is life, and life goes on, that's it," said Immam Garissy, who asked if she was Christmas shopping, said that the attacks would not deter her. "You can't miss that, and we don't want to miss it, especially with the attacks, no we don't want to miss that (child agrees). Life goes on."

French authorities have said the attacks were planned in Brussels by a local man, Abdelhamid Abaaoud, 28, who fought for Islamic State in Syria and was killed in a police siege of an apartment in the Paris suburb of St. Denis on Wednesday.

A ban on demonstrations in the Paris area was extended on Saturday until Nov. 30, while a night curfew was imposed in parts of Sens, a town southeast of Paris, after raids there.

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