What happened in France after the Paris terror attacks

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What happened in France after the Paris terror attacks
All Photos: AFP

It’s one year since jihadists killed 130 people in the worst atrocity in Paris since World War Two. Much has happened since that horrendous night.


What has happened to the injured victims?

With over 400 hospitalized on the night and hundreds of other witnesses suffering trauma, the attackers left many, many victims in their wake.

One year on, there are still 20 people receiving hospital treatment, 11 who receive day care and nine who still spend their nights in a hospital bed.

But it’s not just the physical scars.

Some 600 people are still receiving treatment for psychological trauma. The state is considering the cases of 2,800 people who applied for compensation from a fund set up for the victims of terror attacks.

So far it has paid out €43.8 million in compensation for the victims, out of a predicted total of between €300 and €400 million.

What happened to the targeted venues?

On Saturday night, the eve of the anniversary of the terror attacks, the Bataclan concert hall will reopen with a concert from UK rocker Sting. The majority of the victims were at the Bataclan, and this will be the last of the venues to re-open its doors.

The newly-refurbished bars and restaurants targeted by Kalashnikov-carrying gunmen and suicide bombers came back to life at various points in the months after the attacks. All signs of violence were gone.

First was the Café Bonne Biere by Canal St Martin, then one by one, the Carillon, the Casa Nostra, le Petit Cambodge restaurant, the Comptoir Voltaire and the Belle Equipe opened their doors.

“The first month was difficult. We didn’t trust anyone. It was hard,” a member of staff at the Carillon, who did not want to be named, told The Local. “But then people started coming in, out of support, or curiosity, or to show they were not scared.

But there will always be scars.

"They day we forget what happened will be the day we die," said the staff member.

Bataclan bosses: 'We could not leave it as a mausoleum'

What happened to Paris nightlife?

Stroll round the city on any Friday night and you probably won't notice any difference from what it was like before last November; indeed it’s hard to imagine the atrocity happened at all.

Bars and terraces are full once again and echo with the sounds of laughter, glass chinking and conversations that no longer revolve around what happened.

Granted, it took a while and there are deep scars. People are still prone to being twitchy and they are aware it could happen again.

“But the most important thing is that we go on,” Matthieu, a young Parisian, told The Local.

What happened to the State of Emergency?

It was only meant to last 12 days, but France is still living under an official “state of emergency” one year after President François Hollande announced it in the hours after the attacks.

It has been extended numerous times, mainly because of subsequent terror attacks like the Bastille Day truck attack in Nice and to cover major events like the Euro 2016 championships.

Border checks, restored hours after the attacks, remain in place at France's frontiers.

From the government’s point of view, it has proved effective. Here's what it has resulted in:

  • 80 jihadists or people linked to extremist Islam expelled from France
  • 201 “dangerous” individuals blocked from entering France
  • 430 people barred from leaving France to fight jihad in the Middle East
  • 20 "radical" mosques and Muslim prayer halls closed 
  • 54 websites blocked for glorifying terrorism or for recruiting potential jihadists.
  • 4,000 police raids, prompting around 500 arrests
  • 600 arms have been seized including 77 “weapons of war”
  • 95 people living under house arrest, down from over 400 in February

While the government can boast about its figures, rights groups like the International Federation of Human Rights say the ongoing state of emergency has been damaging.

“Fundamental rights have been abused and there has been an impact on the Muslims in France, who are at a high risk of stigmatization and having their social links broken down,” say the FIDH.

France could cancel summer events over terror fears

What happened to the investigation into the attackers?

Investigators have identified most of the perpetrators, captured eight men and pieced together the main elements of the plot.

Salah Abdeslam (pictured below), the only known surviving member of the ten-strong commando units - the others were killed or blew themselves them up -  is the key suspect, but is refusing to cooperate with French investigators. Belgian authorities are holding Mohamed Abrini, an associate of Abdeslam.

Three of the men involved in the Paris attacks blew themselves up in the Brussels terror attacks in March. A fourth man was shot dead by police there.

A key conspirator was identified just this week, and investigators say they know the mastermind, but will not reveal his name for now.

List of French targets found in Adeslam's home

And what happened to all the security, new laws and "we're at war"?

Hollande declared "we're at war" in the aftermath of the terror atrocity and France has since taken the fight to Isis along with allies.

But at home it's not quite war.

After the attacks, security guards were drafted in to almost every public building, including swimming pools and post offices. Many of them have now gone, but if you want to go to shopping centres, museums or big events, then bag checks and often body searches are the norm.

There are still soldiers on the streets and at strategic locations, as there have been since the Charlie Hebdo attack in January 2015.

Schools in Paris now have to stage mock attacks. Police now have the right to bear arms whilst off duty and many more municipal police in small towns across the country carry guns.

Judges have also seen their powers enhanced, with new legislation allowing them to sentence extremists convicted of terrorist offences to up to 30 years in prison, compared with ten years previously.

The number of active terror cases before the courts has tripled to 350 so far this year, compared with 126 last year and just 26 in 2013.

What happened to French society?

In short, it’s fractured but holding together. Fears that French communities could turn against each other in a kind of civil war have so far proved exaggerated, despite further terror attacks, since last November.

There continues to be isolated acts of Islamophobia the issue of the influence of Islam in France is a constant one. This summer’s damaging burkini row was a clear example.

Secular France and Islam, even at its most moderate, are even further from being reconciled, not that they ever felt compatible.

Sociologist Michel Wieviorka also detects a new fracture developing in French society ahead of presidential elections next year.

On one side is "the call for more security and more exceptional measures," he says. On the other, "those who argue for the rule of law and individual freedoms," he told AFP.

Sociologist Gerome Truc, who has written a book on the Paris attacks, said: "French society is in a situation unprecedented since World War II. It's neither war, nor peace. We'll need time to move on and to measure the consequences.”

What happened to the economy?

The attacks in November hit the Paris tourism industry hard. The subsequent truck attack in Nice in July gave visitors even more reason to stay away from France.

Since the start of 2016, Paris has recorded an eight percent drop in visitor numbers, the equivalent of two million tourists declining to come.

Disneyland Paris has just posted record annual losses.

While airport strikes and violent street protests are partly to blame, the terror attacks have been a major blow for the hotel and restaurant industry.

"We are far from being back to normal," said the manager of a Paris bar near where the attacks took place. "Summer was beautiful but the tourists just did not come."

With tourism representing seven percent of France's GDP and thousands of jobs, the French government has tried to splash cash on security and marketing campaigns to encourage foreign visitors to return.

What happened to the psyche of French people?

In the last year, the French and particularly Parisians have learned to live with the fear that jihadist gunmen and suicide bombers could wreak yet more carnage.

That's partly out of a lack of choice, given the need to go on with daily life and earn a living.

But that's not to say people and authorities are not nervous. Trains and Metro services are regularly delayed because of suspect packages. Domestic gas explosions are headline news, because they are often first reported as potential terror attacks. 

There have been frightening false alarms, like the one that gripped central Paris recently, when a hoax caller said there were hostages being held in a church.

In a recent survey, French people revealed their number one worry was no longer unemployment but the fear of terrorism.

It's understandable being scared when there are soldiers and armed police in places they never were and train announcements read out a special number to call in case you see anyone suspicious.

To paraphrase the words in the photo at the top of this article. The French are fearful but they are here.



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