Paris returns to work under ‘psychosis’ of terrorism

Machine-gun-totting security officials patrol the platforms at key transport hubs

Parisians returned to work on Monday morning under the watchful gaze of armed police and soldiers, giving the French capital the air of a city under siege. (Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

Parisians returned to work on Monday morning under the watchful gaze of armed police and soldiers, giving the French capital the air of a city under siege. (Photograph: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg)

 

Parisians returned to work on Monday morning under the watchful gaze of armed police and soldiers, giving the French capital the air of a city under siege. Machine-gun-totting security officials patrolled the platforms at key transport hubs such as the six main train terminals, while messages flashed on information screens urging commuters to be vigilant and to dial an emergency number should they notice any suspicious behavior.

“Things are bad; we are afraid but we have to carry on,” said 29-year-old Boutina Tazi, who works in information technology, as she headed to work in the La Defense financial district. “There are extra checks at shop entrances, security everywhere. It’s all slightly surreal.”

Monday marks the last of three days of national mourning after the terrorist attacks on Friday that claimed at least 129 lives. President Francois Hollande on Sunday said France would extend a state of emergency imposed on Friday for three months. Meanwhile, security agencies across Europe and the US raced to piece together how teams of coordinated gunmen and suicide bombers evaded heightened security to strike in the heart of one of Europe’s most heavily-policed cities.

‘State of psychosis’

“We’re in a state of psychosis at the moment,” said Amaury Larreur, 27, who works at a hospital trust in the east of Paris. “Even if the atmosphere is very heavy, we have to get on with life because we can’t let the terrorists win.”

Security measures extended to the capital’s school system. All French school trips have been canceled until Nov. 22, French Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem said Monday morning on radio station France Inter. The same goes for any school activity that requires taking public transport. The only exception is for those who are already on trips abroad who will return as originally scheduled. Other schools, for example one in the 15th arrondissement south of the Seine River, stationed extra security personnel to ensure only students entered the premises.

Employers meanwhile sought to ensure the safety of their workforce and to encourage employees to respect the minute’s silence, which will be observed at noon. “Our chief executive officer messaged everyone over the weekend to inform us of extra security measures,” said Antoine Roillard, a 46-year-old who works at a savings bank in La Defense. “It never crossed my mind not to come to work today.”

Bloomberg