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‘Sense of siege’: French citizens on edge after Paris attacks

In the aftermath of this week's terrorist attacks in Paris, people remain on edge, despite many marches and gatherings of solidarity throughout the country. Rachel Donadio of the New York Times joins Hari Sreenivasan via Skype from Paris to gauge the general mood on the streets.

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  • HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR:

    We want to return now to Paris to get a better sense of the mood there in the aftermath of this week's terror attacks. For more about that, we are joined now via Skype by Rachel Donadio of "The New York Times."

    So, what is the mood there on the streets of Paris?

  • RACHEL DONADIO, THE NEW YORK TIMES:

    Well, I would say it's pretty (AUDIO GAP) and quiet. I walked this morning through the Marais, a quarter of area that has a large Jewish population but also a lot of shops that are normally extremely crowded on the weekend, and it was very empty. It was a little bit eerie, frankly. There were people sitting in cafes reading the newspaper, trying to take stock of what's been happening.

    Colleagues of mine who have been out to Vincennes, which is where the supermarket, the kosher supermarket had hostages taken yesterday, say that the feeling there is even worse. There's just a sense of siege, really, and this feeling that people don't feel at ease. I mean, obviously, there is a sense that there are these killers that could come at any time and it puts people really very much on edge.

    At the same time, you are also seeing a massive amounts of solidarity. There's huge rallies organized tomorrow. There'd be a huge rally with heads of state from across Europe, people coming out and expressing solidarity, in favor of democracy, free speech, all of these values that these radical killers were opposed to.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Is there a sense of anxiety that there could be more attacks, that there is a great deal —

  • RACHEL DONADIO:

    Absolutely.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    — of unknown, and how do these guys get through the security system?

  • RACHEL DONADIO:

    Yes, absolutely. I mean, these are people who clearly had a lot of training, it seems. We're at "The New York Times" have been reporting that they were probably trained in Yemen, I mean, they had been radicalized and had good training and you never know. I mean, the French security apparatus can't monitor everybody in sight.

    There is a big debate about the limits of surveillance, the limits of democracy. But there is really a sense of who knows what is going to happen next.

    It's tremendously anxious-making. People are talking to their kids about this, trying to explain their own anxieties, kids who are in school when all this happened, when the shootings happened, whether how teachers should explain it to them. I mean, everyone is very, very anxious. There's a feeling that this is maybe the beginning of something.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    Earlier, you also had written about that there is already this conversation happening about the places of immigrants in society and what their role is and how France is really changing over time.

  • RACHEL DONADIO:

    Yes, absolutely. It's a sense where many people do not feel at home in France. Obviously, the Jews who were targeted in the supermarket yesterday, they do not feel very much at home. Maybe some of these Muslim guys who grew up in France, have French passports, went to study jihad, they probably don't feel very much at home in France, and then a lot of other people who live in France don't always feel at home in France.

    There is a sense that people don't feel at home at home, whether that means you're Jewish, Muslim or trying to come to terms with these larger debates. I mean, you don't know what kind of clash in civilization, whether it's just individuals who go and do crazy things, and it causes a profound amount of anxiety here.

  • HARI SREENIVASAN:

    All right. Rachel Donadio of "The New York Times" — thanks so much.

  • RACHEL DONADIO:

    Thank you.

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