Me on my way to the rally
I lived in Paris for three years; I attended the American University of Paris for two years as a Grad Student and worked at the OECD (an economic & development international organization) for one year before I moved to New York 2 months ago.
Hearing the news on Friday hit me hard, as Paris still feels like my home. And even though I have heard that all of my friends are ok, my head is still spinning as I try to come to terms with what this could mean for Paris, France, the EU, the global response to Syria, the fleeing refugees, and the further rejection of Islam in a Western-centric world.
The French President, Francois Hollande, has closed France’s borders, which is, of course, an appropriate response to these events. But the coming months and years will bring speculation as to whether France should leave the Schengen Zone permanently, and perhaps the EU all together. As a progressive liberal, and one who thinks the EU is a positive structure that shows we can move beyond a world order structured only around countries/nationalities, I really hope France will remain in the EU.
The EU, which was established as a trading block for Europe to compete with the UN, China, and Russia for economic purposes, stands as a testament to humanity that we can govern ourselves based on more than just the nationalities we are born into. The EU has been a positive force for years in regards to refugees fleeing regions of conflict because it functions as a multitude of cultures and nationalities, and has, for the most part, remained open to refugees.
This could change all of that of course, as a rising population in France (usually the older, much more conservative citizens) believe France has become too multicultural (I phrase I think should never exist) and France should “return to to the French,” meaning the government should expel it’s immigrant population. This type of thinking has only been encouraged by these terrorist attacks, especially because the attacks were on young, liberal-minded people which was done purposefully to impose fear on those of us who maintain this sort of open-mindedness as a warning and a threat to our “naïvety.”
My heart aches for Paris and those of us who lost someone in this hateful, cowardly attack. But I absolutely urge my friends in Paris to keep their hearts and minds open, especially to the Syrian refugees who are fleeing from the same bloodshed that occurs daily in their home country. Terrorism has no religion, and we are all in this together.
I went to Washington Square Park yesterday to show solidarity for our brothers and sisters in Paris, and to tell my friends who feel they have lost their city to darkness: Paris will always be the city of light. Here in New York, we know better than anyone how terrifying and painful these attacks have been on the city and it’s people, and we’re here in spirit with Paris.
Here are some of the photos I took at the event yesterday:
Two French girls sitting by the pond
“French and Proud”
A snapshot from the scene
A memorial; I wrote “Aujourd’hui on est tous Parisiens” – or – “Today we are all Parisians”
Two girls showing Paris is about passion, music, free-thinking, and enjoying life
The Mayor’s Office did this after the rally