‘No fear’ at Paris rally
A Metro driver rallies a packed train, a crowd applauds and cheers the police and a heartbroken man falls sobbing into President Francois Hollande’s arms.
As a shaken France unites after its darkest week in decades, such unusual scenes are the order of the day.
They come from the poor suburbs outside the city limits and from the chic quarters of the center, they jog, they cycle, they cram into packed underground Metro trains and — when all else failed — they walk there.
But they come. For the journalists, police officers, Jews, Muslims and ordinary people killed by extremists.
“Who am I?” yells a driver on one Metro line. “Charlie!” responds the crowd, clapping, on a journey where people usually avert gazes and stay glued to their cellphones.
“I am really happy to work today and take you to the Republican march,” says another driver on the Metro, also to applause.
Despite their differences, people come together under wintry blue skies with a defiant message: France will not be divided by fear or religious differences.
“I am French and I am not afraid” reads one banner.
Daniel, a hip young Jewish singer, and Riad, a 60-year-old Muslim shopkeeper, swap views on the country’s ordeal as the crowd gathers.
“We can live together,” says Daniel Benisty, 30, who is Jewish like the four men killed when Islamist gunman Amedy Coulibaly stormed a kosher supermarket in the French capital on Friday.
“It’s the idea of living together because we share the same values, liberty, fraternity, equality, to live in peace and respect each other despite our differences.”
“Exactly!” agrees Riad. “I don’t recognize these Islamists, they’re not Muslims.”