Living Through The Paris Attacks, As A Reporter And Resident

Nov 15, 2015
Originally published on November 17, 2015 1:30 pm
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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

NPR's Paris correspondent Eleanor Beardsley has lived in the city for a decade. She covered the terror attacks last January. Eleanor says Paris was struck again just as life was returning to normal. This time, she fears things may be changed forever.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: For the last year, my 9-year-old son and I have been reading "Harry Potter" together. We're currently on the last tome of seven volumes, and we're both completely enthralled. Yesterday, he asked me, momma, is this kind of like if Voldemort was attacking? I paused for a moment, struck by the perfect simplicity of the comparison. It's exactly like that, I told him. If you've read "Harry Potter," you know that living under the threat of Voldemort and his henchmen, the Death Eaters, is to live in fear of being attacked, whoever you are and wherever you are. And this is kind of how Paris feels right now.

As events unfolded Friday night, Parisians knew in their gut that it was happening again, that terrorists were attacking their city less than a year after Islamist radicals killed 17 people at satirical newspaper and a kosher supermarket. But this time, no one was singled out. We were all targets. And there are at least 129 dead and hundreds injured. It feels so much worse. Paris has been wounded. Parisians are walking around in a daze. And many say they don't feel safe anymore.

For me, Paris was always a city of liberty, love and lofty ideals, a place where the world came together to solve its problems. An example is the global climate conference to be held here at the end of this month. Now I expect Paris will turn inward and become obsessed with its own security. There are more soldiers and police on the streets already. Getting around will be filled with security hassles as that wonderful laissez-faire atmosphere gives way to the tension of a city on edge. Last night, I rode by the Eiffel Tower. Instead of glittering against the sky, the iconic monument was dark in mourning. I fear the city of light will never be the same. Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.