Parisians feel solidarity with Belgians – and fear

Many Parisians expressed anxiety and fear, accompanied by feelings of kinship with their Belgian neighbors.

By RINA BASSIST
March 23, 2016 06:47
2 minute read.
A couple looks at the Eiffel Tower lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag in Paris

A couple looks at the Eiffel Tower lit up in the colors of the Belgian flag in Paris. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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PARIS – The terror attacks in Brussels on Tuesday morning hit home for those in Paris, who recently felt the same Islamic terror on their own soil. And members of the Jewish community, recalling the panic, expressed fear about what could be next.

“I don’t know yet what we will do about all the Purim events,’’ said Moshe, who lives in the 11th arrondissement. “Many of the synagogues have organized Purim dinners and feasts for the children following the reading of the megila. We already have here in Paris, and elsewhere in France, around-the-clock security at our synagogues and Jewish schools, by both the army and our own people. What else can be done?’’ Chaos reigned at Paris railway stations on Tuesday, where high-speed trains usually transport people to international destinations.

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Hundreds of passengers were already seated when the announcement came, canceling all trains to the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium.

Security agents had little information to offer, explaining simply that all international trains departing from Paris had been canceled for the coming hours, and possibly for the day.

“We arrived two days ago from Madrid and were supposed to continue to Amsterdam today,’’ Jenny, a 26-year-old American tourist, told The Jerusalem Post. “When we saw here at the station the scanning machines for our luggage, and all the security agents around us, we actually felt protected. But now I am scared.”

Indeed, many Parisians expressed anxiety and fear, accompanied by feelings of kinship with their Belgian neighbors.

“Ever since the attacks in Paris last November, with suspects fleeing to Brussels, with suspects being hunted over there and apprehended last Friday, we feel that France and Belgium are confronted by a similar destiny, and that we must fight terror together, as one,” said a student at the Sorbonne, who requested anonymity.



“President Francois Hollande said it best – the attacks were not directed just at Brussels; they were directed at all of Europe. At all of us.

We and the Belgians are on the forefront. We feel as if the attack took place here, inside Paris – and we are mourning the dead in the Belgian capital,” the student said.

Another student, Jean B. from Strasbourg, was scheduled to go to Brussels for research at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

“We completely understand that the train stations are shutting down,” he said.

“France and Belgium are like brothers, who sometime make jokes at each other, but are actually inseparable,” he continued. “Many of my friends work at the European Commission in Brussels, and they all feel at home there. This is why we sympathize completely with Brussels residents. They are experiencing what we experienced on November 13, where terror charges at you in multiple places, one attack after the other, this feeling that terror is waiting for you around the corner.”

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