Shamefully I have been back from Paris for a few weeks now but haven’t really found the time to sit down and actually write about the experiences whilst in my favourite city. I have been many times over the past few years so I won’t dribble on about how tall the Eiffel Tower is or how busy the Louvre was. I am going to write about feeling safe versus feeling paranoid following the Charlie Hebdo killings.
Following the brutal and cowardly murders Paris has unsurprisingly seen an increase in it’s security. Where we were staying in Paris one street along a police car with two policemen was parked outside a nonedescript house every hour of every day. With the engine running and headlights on it always felt as if something could happen at any minute. Likewise on along another street close by was a Jewish meeting space, which with two or three heavily armed guards outside its entrance gave me a feeling of unease.
I must of course stress that I condone what happened on the 7th of January with every fibre of my being. The question I raise with the vastness of the army presence, three months on, is does it make you feel safer or does it make you feel like you have something to fear? As soon as we arrived in Charles De Gaulle airport we were faced with it; a suitcase had been left unattended in the metro station and the army were put in place to stop people from going down to the metro until this issue had been cleared. Terror reigns.
It is of course not the first time I have had to deal with this kind of a situation. Following the 7/7 bombings in London, we as a nation became more afraid and quicker to anger. We saw the rise in the BNP (British Nation Party) a political group that were racists and fed upon peoples distrust and fear. It is hard looking back at that period of London and British history because we have come so far since. The media portrayed the 2012 Olympics as a big red target to which any would be terrorist would aim at but during the Olympics I felt no increase in security through the city, nor felt the fear of my fellow Brits. We had grown stronger through the horrors and no longer felt their terror.
It’s the hope that Paris too will be able to move on from such a bloody moment. I understand that it is hard to compare the two as the victims of our terrorist attack were not targeted and yet the outpouring of support from all walks of life in Paris in the days and months that have followed shows that glimmer of hope for a much brighter day.