Paris is a lovely woman, and she is in atrocious pain.
They are her children, these French Catholics, and REGINA readers. Eric Paunowitsch is 58 years old, living in the west of the 10th arrondissement of Paris, where last Friday’s attacks took place. Marie Rivière, 42, lives just outside Paris. Jean Lamotte, 45, is a Paris native living in Italy.
In this round table interview, these ordinary French people take us on a walk through the streets of Paris in the aftermath of Friday’s horrific violence. Theirs is not the officially-sanctioned, cheerful reportage coming out of most European media outlets. (German radio, for example, is reporting that ‘people on the streets of Paris are relaxed’. They play folk song montages with audio clips of actors announcing ‘They want to frighten us, but we are not frightened’.)
This is not reality. Here’s what it’s really like.
REGINA: Where were you when you heard of the attacks?
JEAN: At home. In my bed. At a point I heard my cellphone notifying 7/8 messages in a row so I got up and discovered the mess.
ERIC: I was teaching a class.
MARIE: At home.
REGINA: How about did the people around you react?
MARIE: Most people were dumbfounded. They couldn't believe this could be happening.
JEAN: Italian people are very nice. Everyone in the neighbourhood has had a kind word for my family or for France in general. Many of them have been made to feel insecure by these blind attacks.
ERIC: “Keep calm & carry on”: I continued my course and we separated after saying a prayer for the victims
REGINA: Did you trust the media reports?
JEAN: Media are media. Facts are facts.
ERIC: I followed the brief of Figaro: factual.
MARIE: Yes, I did. The only thing is in the first hours, they were very cautious about who had done it, while there was no doubt about that.
REGINA: What is the mood overall among French people in days after the attacks?
MARIE: I think there's a lot of sadness and a lot of anger. On TV, they are showing and interviewing only people expressing sadness, but there's a lot of anger, too. One look at people's comments on line will give you an idea.
JEAN: France is divided. Between Muslims (one out of 5 French people) and the rest of the society. Between non-Muslims who are fed up and want a stop to Islamization and immigration and non-Muslims who don't want to discriminate. There have been unbelievable scenes of young Frenchmen asking for an end to Islamization rejected from gatherings in support to the victims. This is the Stockholm syndrome at a national scale.
ERIC: Stunning in the etymological sense. Paris was and is quieter than a day in August. Saturday and Sunday nights, there was not a sound in the streets. The whites are in shock. The others (black and Arab) remain active. I have heard this from several young people who have walked the streets in Paris. This is normal, these “foreigners” (yet with French papers) remain strangers to the dominant feeling.
REGINA: Are people afraid to go out?
JEAN: When the enemy is at home, where wouldn't you feel afraid?
ERIC: Yes, the bars are empty. But there were many people in the churches like Notre Dame where Cardinal Vingt-Trois celebrated Mass yesterday evening.
MARIE: I know of people who were afraid to go out the next day. But on the following Sunday, that's two days after the attacks, lots of people went out and gathered for comfort, in memory of the victims, and also to say ‘we are not afraid'. About sporting events or other events, in Paris, but also in other towns and villages, big or small, they were canceled.
REGINA: Do you think that your government is capable of handling this?
MARIE: I think for years, governments have been too tolerant towards people who did not hide their hate for our values. Our leaders have been so naive. Before the January terrorist attacks, there had been other attacks against soldiers, policemen, small crowds (a car crashing into the crowd at a Christmas market in Nantes, for example). Most assailants shouted ‘Allah Akbar' but never mind, they were said to be nothing but ‘insane', ‘unbalanced' people. But even beyond that, there's been this constant victimization of criminals in general (they have been poor/discriminated against/treated unfairly/blah blah blah, that's why they turned out that bad, poor things).
JEAN: For more than 20 years the US government has been unable to handle the growth of Muslim fundamentalism it has created as Rick Santorum has just and rightly recorded. Figure if the French government is capable of handling ethno-masochism, massive immigration and islamophilia!
ERIC: If they really wanted to, the government could. But they are afraid of the huge Muslim fifth column in France. I think our leaders have already surrendered in their head. They know that strong measures are impossible because it would trigger a civil war. Their ideal was described by Houellebecq in “Submission.”
REGINA: We hear that France has closed her borders, that there are measures for increased security everywhere. Does this make people feel safer?
ERIC: No, these are cosmetic measures. And the current deployment of the army is only used to protect the synagogues.
MARIE: Well, most terrorist attacks committed lately were by French Muslims. However numerous the soldiers and police forces patrolling our streets, they can't do anything against a man who has decided to kill himself and as many other people as possible with him. These murderers do want to die as martyrs, anyway. No matter how strict the security measures, they won't stop that kind of terrorist.
By the way, France hasn't closed its borders; it is checking anybody crossing the borders. And that may be reassuring against the migrants –among whom, potential terrorists, however few — who would still want to enter the country. But these are temporary measures. And these terrorists seem to be very patient. They may just wait until things calm down.
REGINA: Under the previous administration, France was deporting people who had no right to be there. Do you think the present government is strong enough to do this?
ERIC: They no longer have the will because they no longer have the strength. Unfortunately this government fears more than any others the leftists who are close to the ruling circles. Our government is the same inversion of democracy. The people are not represented by this band of profiteers, these ’68-ers’
MARIE: They say they are going to take tough measures to get rid of any potential terrorist. I'd like our president to be as tough as the Russian president when it comes to Muslim fundamentalists, but he's not. He's said –at last– that our country is at war now, but he's not taking the measures necessary in that situation –like deporting anybody preaching or encouraging the djihad, for example. There have been reports about mosques where imams are known to very subtly encourage young people to do the djihad, but nothing has been done against them.
REGINA: Do you think the French military and police force are sufficiently supported to maintain public safety?
ERIC: The army and police are supported by the people. But the government is wary of the Army. As for general officers, they seem more able to govern as representatives of parties in power or in opposition. Many of us hope a military coup like that of De Gaulle to change regime, to restore true democracy.
JEAN: Of course. It's simply a problem of political will.
MARIE: No, they are not. In words, they are, by our government. But not in fact. There has been reports about the lack of personnel, the lack of material. Our military has started to be downsized by the previous administration, and has been drastically depleted by the present government. As for ordinary citizens, I wish French people were like American people when it comes to supporting our military. But mostly, people take it for granted. They are not interested. Also there's still lots of people who don't like the military because ‘war is bad'. Not to mention the ecologists and other pacifists.
REGINA: Are French Catholics worried about their churches as potential targets for terrorists?
ERIC: Yes, we're all a little worried when we celebrate Mass in a church full of people and unprotected …
JEAN: Yes but as much as they are worried for trains, schools or stadiums.
MARIE: A few months ago, they arrested a man who had been planning to attack a church not far from Paris. Thing is any place is a potential target. Really any place. Plus, most of the French Catholic clergy –I'm not saying Catholics in general, I really mean the clergy– still refuse to admit there's a problem with Islam in France. Which is very frustrating, because it's so obvious there is. Recently a priest was reported to have used parishioners' donations to help finance the construction of a mosque…Like I said, very frustrating.
REGINA: Do you think that some of those in France with a pacifist or defeatist attitude have re-thought their position in the wake of these attacks?
ERIC: Yes, many are beginning to open their eyes. But the globalist ideology, the ‘Rights of Man’ ideologists and the ideologues of anti-racism continue to rein in the media and therefore the government.
JEAN: Individually some may have but there is no general awareness. Mind changes have occurred in the last ten years when some opinion leaders, most of them ex-68ers, have understood the impossibility of multiculturalism and discovered the importance of asserting our proper identity and especially our Christian roots.
MARIE: We'll see, but I'm not sure. See, the day after the attacks, some left-wing politicians, show business people and intellectuals interviewed in the media were saying something to the effect that the first priority now is not to discriminate against Muslims because of what happened….I mean, sure, Muslims in general shouldn't be discriminated against, ever, but saying that this should be the first priority after the attacks, I don' t think so.
REGINA: Are there Muslim leaders in France who are publicly denouncing attacks?
MARIE: Yes, there are, and they are very brave as they are said to receive death threats. But there are too few of them. Most of them go like, sure we sympathize, but our religion is one of peace and love. Even when it's about young people who have attended their mosque regularly, what they say in the media is they didn't see anything coming, don't know anything, it's not them. I mean, in history, the inquisition or crusades are said to be facts of the Catholic church, right ? And we, Catholics acknowledge and admit that, right ?
ERIC: From the tip of the lips. For my part I never trust a Muslim. The violence and the will to dominate the world is intrinsic to Islam. Their accusations are false.
JEAN: I cannot say but if they are they speak very low.