A Week After The Attacks, The Latest From Paris

Nov 21, 2015
Originally published on November 21, 2015 9:59 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. It's been a week since terrorists launched coordinated attacks around Paris that killed 130 people and wounded hundreds more. The attackers, a group of French and Belgian nationals affiliated with ISIS, claimed to act in the name of Islam. France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe. And there are the usual fears of a backlash. As NPR's Eleanor Beardsley reports, just the opposite may be happening as people pull together.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: On Friday afternoon, people stood in a long line in the rain waiting to get into Paris's main mosque. Security was tight, and police with assault rifles kept watch out front. In some 2,500 mosques across the country, imams read a verse from the Quran during Friday prayers this week, one that likens killing one innocent person to killing all of humanity. Sam Belo, a 26-year-old law student at the Sorbonne, holds an umbrella against the rain. He says it's important for Muslims to come together to denounce the attackers.

SAM BELO: The guys who are doing these such terrorist attacks are not Muslims, Really. They have nothing to do with Islam.

HAKIM HIMER: (Foreign language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: Sixty-year-old Hakim Himer came to France from Algeria as a little boy. He's French now, has a family of his own and runs a halal butcher shop in Paris's 15th arrondissement. Himer says this wave of attacks is completely different from those in January targeting a kosher supermarket and a satirical magazine whose cartoonist depicted the prophet Muhammad in a denigrating way.

HIMER: (Through interpreter) In January, after the Charlie Hebdo attacks, there was confusion. Not all of my customers denounced the attackers because some were against the cartoonists. But this time it's clear as day. Everyone is totally against these people.

BEARDSLEY: Himer says he does not fear a backlash from the French.

HIMER: (Through interpreter) No, certainly not. I'm not scared of that. I've been here 56 years. We're in a democracy, and the French people understand very well who's good and who's not.

BEARDSLEY: France, Himer says, should continue bombing the hell out of ISIS to get rid of those vermin. French authorities believe all of last Friday's attackers but one have been killed. The country remains under high alert. And the French Parliament voted to extend a state of emergency for three more months. Two of the attackers are believed to have gotten back into Europe from Syria via Greece where they were hidden among the tens of thousands of Syrian migrants pouring in.

BERNARD CAZENEUVE: (Foreign language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: Speaking from Brussels, where he met with his European counterparts Friday, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said France would now control its borders. Open borders has been a cherished feature of the European Union, but now, under threat, external and internal borders will be tightened. Cazeneuve also announced that European airline passenger lists would be kept and shared, something the European Parliament has always resisted.

Back at the mosque, 29-year-old sports instructor Akdal Banabour says he lost one of his friends in the attack on a cafe that he frequently goes to.

AKDAL BANABOUR: (Through interpreter) The ignoramuses who did this consider Muslims of France fragile imposters, so they want to kill us, too. There's no distinction. We're all in the same boat. It's called France.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: One French Muslim's cry of anger is getting millions of hits on his Facebook page. In a video, the 35-year-old electrician from the Paris suburbs exhorts French Muslims to take care of these imposters.

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: "It's enough," he says. "It's our job to clean them out. They're dirtying our name whether you like it or not. The solution must come from us, Muslims of France."

(SOUNDBITE OF VIDEO)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).

BEARDSLEY: "Salamalekoum, my friends," he says, using the Arabic greeting for peace be upon you. "Take care of your families, and I'll see you soon." Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.