A year on from the Paris attacks and life is the same yet different for Parisians

November 13 marks the one year anniversary of the suicide bomb and shooting attacks in Paris.

Six co-ordinated attacks, which lasted several hours, killed more than 130 people and left hundreds injured. The terrorists sought out a football stadium and areas bustling with nightlife, and slaughtered 90 people at the Bataclan music venue.

As events unfolded, pictures and video were beamed across the world, causing a global outpouring of sympathy and assistance.

 

One year one, we talked to some Parisians about their experiences on the night of the attacks and how the city has changed.

 

‘My first reaction was oh not again’

“Mobile networks started having issues because so many people were trying to get in touch with loved ones,” she said, “which only added to the hysteria.”

 

Some experienced events unfolding on the ground, but others expressed feeling detached from the havoc being wreaked on their city.

 

Mourad, 36, told us he was with a group of friends in the 18th arrondissement that evening. He described feeling “as if I was watching a film, with an emotional distance”.

 

‘Living a real nightmare’

As the world looked on, changing social media profile photos to the tricolore in solidarity, Parisians came together to pick up the pieces of their shattered city.

Mourad says the attacks have changed how he interacts with his fellow citizens on a day-to-day basis. “The attacks have made me want to be more open and friendly with other Parisians, embracing our differences. More so than distrust and fear.”

Hugo said it made people look for the positives. “Paris is magical, there was a movement that brought together people all around the world. It was about creating something beautiful out of tragedy.”

He added: “This city is the showcase of the French republic with its history, its revolutions, its values…The body may have been injured but the skeleton is still intact, in my opinion.”

For others, life goes on. Olivier, 57, said: “I feel less safe but daily life hasn’t changed.”

 

Rising Islamaphobia

Malikah describes a “wave of Islamophobia” since the attacks, but thinks there hasn’t necessarily been a rise in hate crime. She is critical of people conflating the issues: “For example, following the attacks there were calls to tighten immigration and to stop accepting Syrian refugees, even if in reality they are two completely separate issues.

“I think that some of the extreme right-wing parties are playing on this fear, especially ahead of the upcoming elections.”

The opinion that Islamaphobia is on the rise is shared by many of the people we spoke to, though most seemed reluctant to expand on their views. Sophie said: “I wouldn’t say that before the attacks, being a Muslim was easy and I think these attacks will only serve to aggravate these tensions.”

‘Make no mistake about it, there will be other attacks’

Candles at the Bataclan concert hall
(Christoph Ena/AP)

 

Other terror attacks aimed at France have been a stark wake-up call for the nation that Paris would not be a one-off incident. Olivier paints a bleak picture when asked about the likelihood of another attack.

“Make no mistake about it, there will be other attacks. They strike when they want, where they want. I think that there’ll be another event before 2017… They are everywhere and nothing will stop them.”

Paris Terror attack
(Steve Parsons/PA)

 

Sophie concedes that an another attack could happen, as much as it is likely to happen in any other city, but she wants the government to focus on prevention. “These incidents shouldn’t be taken at face value, we should try and understand why these things happen and maybe we can prevent further attacks,” she said. “It’s complicated.”

 

It is complicated, but the fortitude and resilience of the Parisian people will keep the city functioning in its stylish way well into the future.

 

Some participants have asked for their names to be changed.


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