Guest post: Life in France under the state of emergency

Guest post: Life in France under the state of emergency

The following guest post was written by Marie Vallet. We met when she came to Chicago in the summer of 2014.

We had exchanged e-mails before she came over from Paris, France, so we knew each other slightly before we met. But when we heard each other's voices -- and languages -- we had a decision to make: Would we use French or English?

Each of us wanted to practice our second language, so we decided to use them. I spoke French; she spoke English.

We had a great day together as I showed her Chicago -- even though it was Air Show Saturday and very loud. We parted as friends.

We have continued to write to each other, usually in our own languages. Our continuing friendship has made me very concerned about the attacks in France, from the murder of journalists at Charlie Hebdo in Paris early in 2015 through attacks in Paris in November and July 14 (Bastille Day) in Nice and the murder of a priest in Normandy.

Even before the most recent attack, Marie and I discussed writing about life and the situation in France. What follows are her responses to my e-mailed questions. (Any translation problems are my own and will be fixed when she reads the English version of what I send out.)

By Marie Vallet (Questions by Margaret H. Laing)

What is the hardest part of the emergency for you?

To stop all of the people responsible for the attacks  by using the files and the "S" file (the list of people identified as susceptible to commit terrorism),  and to cooperate with Belgium, which also has been deeply touched by terrorism.

Also, to search for the origin of the funds (in Qatar?) in order to block the supply of arms and remove the armed forces of Syria.

What does not seem to have changed?

Controls in strategic locations are not more reinforced (in commercial and tourist centers). There are few extra police officers in the streets.

Who is the politician who is France's best leader during the emergency?

None! We are not reassured, and no messages go out except the ones of the type "Never again like this!" That is useless!

Do you think the attack on July 14 will hurt future Bastille Day celebrations?

Yes and no; it depends on the president in 2017, but we must not remove all our festivals.

What can the U.S. do to help France?

Spot and denounce future terrorists and their ramifications in U.S. files.

You've seen some parts of this country. What could we do better to help win this war?

We should take an example from Guantanamo and install prison camps especially for future jihadists.

What do you want Chicago to know about this war?

Nothing. That Chicago should live in peace with its culture of art. It has already had its part of history with gangsters, and it is on the level of countries that decisions should be taken and not on the level of states.

Thank you, Marie.


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  • France's problems appear to include people who I assume are citizens who themselves or their families came from the former colonial areas, the flood of refugees from Syria and possibly some ISIS operatives among them, and fairly free travel among EU states, and then ease of going between Turkey and Syria.

    It also didn't seem that your correspondent discussed what France and Belgium were doing and whether it was effective. For instance, at the time of the stadium and nightclub attacks, France 24 (here on Channel 20.3) said that the borders were sealed, but obviously they weren't, as the ringleaders escaped to Belgium.

    I don't know if Marie wants or is able to discuss these issues.

    Finally, she doesn't know that while Chicago may no longer have its gangsters, it certainly has its problems with gangbangers.

  • In reply to jack:

    Thank you for your comments, Jack. I watch France 24 too.

  • Interesting to read!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thank you, Kathy. I'm glad you thought so.

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