Paris—Friday, my daughter visited Boulevard Voltaire, where most of the mass murdering on November 13 took place, and this was her brief take on what she saw:
“Carpets of flowers cover the entrances to the restaurants where patronswere shot. Lots of tender messages to dead friends, candles and even unopened cans of beer as a toast to the departed mark the sea of remembrance, because lots of the victims were young.
“Late afternoon seemed to be the time when relatives and friends came. A father broke down and wept on his knees. A young couple embraced and murmured comfort and memories into each other’s ear. An old lady, perhaps simply passing by, sheltered a young photographer from the misty rain that made Paris itself seem covered in a gauze shroud.
“At night was a kind of public visiting hour. Thousands gathered on the street to gaze and light candles. Nearby at Place de la Republique, still others added to the mound of flowers and occasionally burst out in a round of the Marseillaise.
“Some people I talked to said their lives would go on as before. Some others said they had a hard time getting over this and it might take a long time to feel safe.
“If you asked about the meaning, the voices were muffled almost whisopered but clear. “This means war.” “This is war.”
It is the undertone of the sadness.“
I thought surely that these sentiments were heard in Beirut, Bamako, Turkey, Sharm el-Sheikh, the places of recent attacks, and Nairobi, London, Paris, Casablanca, Madrid, Bali and New York and Washington from assaults of the past, or in Aleppo and Homs and Hama and all over horrific Syria, and Gaza and Lebanon as well as Iraq and back when the US invaded Iraq in 2003.
Where Paris’ anger will lead and who will channel it and how is yet unknown. The track record of the Middle East, however, is pretty clear though. More war.
NPR on the scene.
Photos from Time.