Tags: paris | terror | carrilon

French, Americans Show Solidarity in DC

Image: French, Americans Show Solidarity in DC
Aftermath of Paris attacks (AP)

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Monday, 16 Nov 2015 07:58 AM Current | Bio | Archive

An ocean away from the tragedy in Paris that claimed 129 lives, more than 1,000 French and Americans joined together in Washington, D.C., Saturday night to demonstrate solidarity over what is increasingly being called “the French 9/11.”

Cries of “Vive le France!” and choruses of the French national anthem “Le Marseillaise” were heard throughout a 90-minute candlelight vigil held at Lafayette Square.

Many Americans embraced French expatriates they barely knew, as French Ambassador Gerard Araud vowed his country would rise from the terrorist assault that one journalist characterized as “Charlie Hebdo times 10” (referring to the January murders of 12 journalists at the Paris-based satirical journal).

Several of the French who spoke to me reflected on the impact the Nov. 13 assault would have on their country’s already-turbulent politics and on the mounting refugee crisis that now grips Europe.

“I used to live in the neighborhood where the [killings] occurred, and I just learned that the backyard of my former home is full of corpses,” said Valerie Astruc, “France 2” television correspondent based in Washington. Recalling her stint covering the Bosnian War in the 1990s, Astruc said the reports she is now getting from Paris “remind me of Yugoslavia.”

In political terms, she feels, “the extreme nationalists will now almost certainly win the regional elections we are holding in December.” She was referring to the National Front led by the controversial French politician Marine LePen, which has long taken a hard line against immigration and warned of the danger of fanatical Islam.

Polls already show the Front running strong in the regional elections next month and three recent surveys have shown LePen herself the top vote-getter in a crowded presidential race in 2017.

Myriam Hayatou, an economist who “just arrived” in Washington to begin work at the World Bank, recalled the Carillon where 12 of the killings occurred.

“If I were in Paris last night, I would be at the Carillon,” she said, “The terrorists targeted some of the most popular places for the French people.”

“We have a saying in France that ‘big problems require big solutions,” Hayatou told me, “and certainly the American people understand this. You are not afraid of making big decisions.”

As for mounting speculation that France would follow in the path of fellow European Union members Slovenia and Hungary and shut out the growing tide of refugees from the Middle East, Hayatou feels otherwise and that “France will let more refugees in. Regardless of what happened Friday, there is an understanding of what these people are undergoing and that they are suffering the consequences of stupid people.”

Asked if she felt LePen and the Nationalists would gain from the tragedy, Hayatou replied, “Probably.”

Gabrielle Kaufman, a bilingual Franco-American who works at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, also discussed a favorite spot in Paris that is now a part of the tragic events of November 13: Le Petit Cambodge (“Little Cambodia”), where the death toll was 18.

“I was there the last time I was in Paris and just heard that an acquaintance of mine who was there Friday has not been heard from,” she said.

Like Haytou, Kaufman believes that the assault on downtown Paris will yield political benefits for LePen and her party “because too many people simply confuse immigration with extremism.”

But Kaufman also agreed that, even after the tragedy of November 13, France would not close its doors to the thousands of immigrants now arriving from the Middle East.

“The French people are open-minded,” she said, “and they understand that refugees have a right to be there because they are fleeing the kind of thing that happened in Paris on Friday.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.
 

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An ocean away from the tragedy in Paris that claimed 129 lives, more than 1,000 French and Americans joined together in Washington, D.C., Saturday night to demonstrate solidarity over what is increasingly being called “the French 9/11.”
paris, terror, carrilon
625
2015-58-16
Monday, 16 Nov 2015 07:58 AM
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