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Attacks: Paris has not sank, but Paris has changed

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – DOMINIQUE FAGET – | People fled after hearing fireside near the Place de la Republique in Paris on 13 November 2015

“Fluctuat nec mergitur” (he is beaten by the waves but not sinking): citing the proud motto of Paris, they were numerous to claim their refusal of terrorism and fear in the aftermath of the attacks of 13 November 2015.

Paris did not sink. But something has changed. Two years after the evening when commandos of the Islamic State (EI) group sowed the horror by killing 130 people in the French capital and its suburbs, automations, sometimes tiny, settled in many.

“In the movie theater, I tend not to put myself just behind the entrance, in the restaurant I do not sit back to the windows … I’m not safe”. The confession is “horrible” for Aurore Humez, a 39-year-old businessman.

The security barriers in front of the concert halls are part of the landscape. Like concrete blocks arranged to prevent a ram-car from mowing passers-by.

At the corner of a street, a group of three soldiers no longer surprise: Operation Sentinel mobilizes 7,000 soldiers permanently in France since 2015.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – Anthony DORFMANN – | People ashore at the café terrace “à la bonne beer” in Paris on November 13, 2015

Usual, bulletproof vests and weapons at the belt of the police. Ordinary, excavated bags at the entrance to shopping centers. Storming, trainings to “gestures that save”.

At the traffic light in front of the Bataclan, the theater where 90 people were murdered on 13 November, motorists stop without turning their heads. On the front, inscriptions shout “No fight, love”, “Fuck Isis” (English acronym). Under the plaque hanging in memory of the victims, a rose was deposited.

– Racist Word –

Without “giving in to a wild identity”, Stéphane, 56, made in the metro “attention to the appearance of some travelers”. “An offense of dirty mouths extended to a part of the population, French immigrants, rather young people, those who resemble those who committed the attacks,” he confides, wishing to remain anonymous . When “certain characteristics become a clue”, “we do not do it without reproaching ourselves a little”.

Ⓒ AFP/Archives – THOMAS SAMSON – | Flowers in tribute to the victims of the Carillon coffee in Paris on November 20, 2015

With mistrust, racist speech is sometimes released in a country where Islam is the second most important religion. “People have linked Islam to terrorism,” regrets Ahmed Alaya, 28, a painter, sitting on a bench in front of a mosque in eastern Paris. He said he had “two or three times problems of racism”.

But for others, past the shock, life has taken over.

“There was a bit of stress at the start, but everything was normal again, and I got into the fact that the danger was unexpected,” says Karim, 30, a professor of history (the first name was changed).

“It was my close friends who made me realize that I lived in a risky city when they canceled their stay,” says Vivien Chazelle, a 31-year-old architect.

However, the climate remains heavy. Each forgotten luggage becomes a suspicious package. A presence enough to paralyze a station hall.

Zone looped, entering the scene of the deminers, the scenario is well established. Between 2014 and 2016, the number of interventions increased from 1,300 to 2,600 per year.

If sites as emblematic as the Louvre, the parvis of the Notre-Dame cathedral or the avenue des Champs-Elysées have been the target of recent attacks, these places remain ultra-frequented.

Jeff and Lauren Stieritz, 35 and 33 years old Americans, returned to admire the Arc de Triomphe, seven years after their first stay. Even though the attacks are “a corner of their heads”, and there are “more policemen in the streets than before” according to Jeff, Lauren “feels safe”: “It is not the Middle- East!”

Paris remains one of the world’s top destinations. From January to June, Ile-de-France hoteliers welcomed 16.4 million tourists. A record for 10 years.

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