November 21 – One week after the Paris attacks of November 13, Parisians are slowly going back to everyday life. Friday night as well as Saturday after the attacks many citizens followed official recommendations by the police and stayed at home. Nevertheless, people started gathering on Place de la Republique as early as Saturday. The square is not only near one of the sites of the attacks, it is also a symbol of French liberty.
“Life in Paris has changed a little: People are a bit more suspicious, people take the subway less, for instance my friends take their car now,” a 24-year old Parisian student told Europa Newswire. “But otherwise, we are resilient people, we fight when something like this happens to us. And it’s really amazing to see that we can stand together as a nation, not only Parisians.”
French President François Hollande has declared a nationwide state of emergency which he extended for three months. This extension is only possible because the French National Assembly and Senate have passed a new law this week. The state of emergency gives special rights to the police, public demonstrations are banned in the Paris area until November 30. Parisians still want to show unity and express their sorrow and so they pilgrimage to Place de la Republique to lay flowers and light candles. The police allows these gatherings, however, when firecrackers were lit and heavily armed police got out of a car near Place de la Republique last Sunday, a mass panic broke out and people ran for their lives.
After public institutions were closed last Saturday, life began to normalize the following Monday. Hundreds of people still gather at Place de la Republique every day. The presence of police and army around the city has increased heavily, which is probably the most obvious change that the City of Light has seen this week. But what about the people?
“We still try to laugh, for example, you have a lot of funny drawings saying, for example, that we shouldn’t be underestimated because we are the ones who found out snails were edible,” the young student told Europa Newswire. “And the first events to be organized apart from the commemorative gatherings were a party to get people to put music out loud in the streets, one to go to restaurants and bars again and the last one inviting every Parisian to have sex in one of the most famous places.”
“But despite all this we’re still very shocked. The state of emergency is still on for three more months. At my school, entrances are closed and there is a security guard checking our bags and IDs. And a [booth for psychological support] has been opened for us. It’s gonna take us time to get over it, but we will.”
Another student told Europa Newswire:
“I noticed that everyone is consciously trying to act normal, as if nothing happened.” The 27-year old student has been studying in Paris for a couple of years now and is not afraid to go out. “Of course it is very disturbing, but life goes on and we won’t hide at home.”
“They might have guns, but we have flowers,” a father explains to his little son in a TV interview at the scene of the Bataclan attacks. The conversation between the two went viral on the internet and perfectly expresses the French attitude of enjoying life. Parisians will not surrender, they will go on living their lives like before.
Or like the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo proudly states on its Tuesday cover, the first issue after the attacks: “They have the weapons. F*** them. We have champagne.”