One week on, Parisians sing and dance to defend ‘values of freedom’
Someone brought a piano, another distributed hundreds of candles, and others spontaneously broke into La Marseillaise -- the French national anthem -- and Bob Marley songs, as Paris sang and danced at 09:20 pm on Friday, marking the time of the first of the terror attacks a week ago.Paris under attack Updated: Nov 21, 2015 15:03 IST
Someone brought a piano, another distributed hundreds of candles, and others spontaneously broke into La Marseillaise -- the French national anthem -- and Bob Marley songs, as Paris sang and danced at 09:20pm on Friday, marking the time of the first of the terror attacks a week ago.
People were emotional at various iconic venues across Paris, including at locations of the terror attacks where 130 people were killed -- most of them youngsters enjoying a usual Friday night out with music, wine and dance.
People turned out in large numbers, arriving singly or in groups from various parts of Paris and elsewhere, but united in their grief and resolve to not allow the attacks to disrupt their way of life. One Parisian brought a saucepan from home to bang it with a stick and make noise.
The hashtag #2120 to reclaim the Parisian ‘joie de vivre’ had spread far and wide, as evident from the turnout, but it was also clear from the mostly thin presence of customers later in the night in usually bustling restaurants on weekends that it will be a while before Paris comes to terms with the tragedy.
At 2120 hours, strangers held hands and raised them in unison as groups broke into song and dance at the Place de la Republique -- the Parisian equivalent of India Gate -- to stage protests and observe collective grief.
There was much clapping, whistling, raising hands and groups singing below the statue of Marianne, as sullen residents sought to process the events of last Friday. The show of defiance was mixed with some tears, reflecting a cathartic response to the new reality of fear.
Iconic locations such as the Eiffel Tower and the National Assembly building were swathed in colours of the French national flag.
Claude Bartolone, president of the National Assembly, mingled with the gathering at the Place de la Republique.
The spontaneous gathering at various locations included several Muslims, including women clad in hijab, who participated in the ‘noise and light’ events at 2120 hours. Friday saw much rain, but it did not dampen the eagerness of people to turn up.
Thousands of cards with emotional messages have been placed at various locations, such as the Stade de France, Le Carillon restaurant and the Bataclan theatre, where most of the 130 casualties occurred.
Many of the messages were covered with plastic to ensure rain did not wash away the sentiment. One of them stood out:
‘Je suis la France
Je suis Paris
Je suis Musulman
Mais je ne suis pas
(‘I am France/ I am Paris/ I am Muslim/ But I am not/ Daesh’).
The group of ‘anonymous citizens, free individuals’ behind the #2120 appeal said: “They wanted to turn off our lights, those that move to the rhythm of music, those who sometimes say after our cigarettes, those reflected in our shared glasses. They wanted to turn the lives of terraces, lifestyle weekend in Paris.”
“They dynamited Palmyra and Syria Nimrod, they machine-gunned the Bataclan and what makes France... Faced with indiscriminate violence, we will stand up to defend our values of freedom.”