Following the attacks earlier this months, I believe the terrorists didn’t succeed in scaring Parisians. For a moment we were shocked. Struck by disbelief, worried. But not afraid.
People are still walking the streets, shopping, getting to work. Life goes on.
There is however a small victory for the lunatics behind these attacks. It is in that we have the army, our army, walking the streets.
Don’t get me wrong: our soldiers are doing a terrific and necessary job, a dangerous one and clearly not an easy one. I am 200% with them.
But the truth is that no civilized city should be walked by heavily armed soldiers. No harm meant but this is not a trading post in Afghan mountains we are talking about. This is Paris, the city of lights and a city of peace. The city of Droits de l’Homme and Freedom.
This morning I was walking alongside a platoon of 8 soldiers carrying their backpacks, holding machine guns in their hands, and wearing bulletproof jackets. In a quiet neighborhood. For me, born and raised in Paris, this is striking. I know other major cities live with that (Tel-Aviv springs to mind) and to some extent Parisians have been used to seeing teams of 3 armed soldiers in the subway since the attacks of 1995. But this morning, this gave me a totally different feeling and perspective.
To me this is death by a thousand cuts for our European/western democracy model. Because these soldiers are the tip of the iceberg, the visible part of our global fight against raving madmen who seem to have sworn their lives to destroy that model. Our loss of privacy, whether obvious (street cameras) or more subtle (telecommunications spying), is an even bigger dent in what I perceive is our model, our values and our way of life.
So, even if it’s not news, it feels, just three weeks after the attacks, like the jihadists have scored a small victory. Not the one they intended. I am not scared by them. But I am worried by the world we are shaping for us and our kids, starting on our very doorsteps.