DHS grad reflects on Paris attacks

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The Eiffel Tower in Paris was lit up with the colors of the French flag in solidarity and remembrance for the lives lost on Nov. 13 (Courtesy photo: Wikipedia Commons).

By Tarin McMorrow,
Bluedevilhub.com Staff–

Paris was devastated by a series of seven terrorist shootings and bombings across the city that killed more than 100 people on Nov. 13; hundreds more were injured.

Suleikha Sutter, who graduated from Davis High last June, is spending her freshman year of college in Paris and was within a mile of where one of the shootings occurred and heard the shots.

Sutter said she first learned about the attacks from a waiter at a local café.

“At the time I only thought it was a shooting, and being an American, where unfortunately shootings happen far too often, I didn’t think too much of it,” she said. “But once I got home people were freaking out in my residence and that was when I discovered it was a terrorist attack.”

Although Paris only covers slightly more than 40 miles, it is one of the densest cities in the world. No matter where someone was in the city at the time, a shooting was within relatively close range.

“There was literally the constant threat of it affecting me,” Sutter said.

Sutter explained that the vibe of the city changed significantly following the attacks.

“It’s a lot more somber and everyone is significantly quieter and you can just sense the tension and fear,” she said.

France closed its borders the following weekend, and the people of Paris were put under a city-wide curfew for the first time since World War II.

“It was very scary afterwords since they had not caught all of the perpetrators,” Sutter said. “It was scary to think there could be more that we don’t know would happen.”

Sutter says there have been memorials and demonstrations all around the city with the theme “Même pas peur” or “We are not afraid.” This coincides with the Parisian motto “Tossed but not sunk.”

To show French pride and individual bravery even after a tragedy such as this, the Eiffel Tower was lit in the red, white and blue stripes of the French flag.

“One of the main mottos of the city right now is to show that we can continue our lives with the absence of fear to show the terrorists that what they did has not worked and has not changed us,” Sutter said.

All over Facebook people marked themselves as “safe” as a way of quickly informing their friends and family of their personal safety. Sutter learned to do this after receiving many frantic messages from friends and relatives in the United States who were concerned for her safety, and says it was a convenient way to get the word out that she was okay.

In the days following the attacks, French president Francois Holland formally announced that France was at war with ISIS–which has taken credit for the Paris attacks–and that the French had begun bombing the terrorist organization in Syria.

“It is definitely very, very scary, emotional and hard to swallow even now since this was, put into perspective, France’s version of 9/11,” Sutter said.

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