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François PICARD

François PICARD

So much has changed in a week

Le 20-11-2015

As we prepare for the first edition of The World This Week since the Paris attacks, last Friday seems like a long, long time ago.

Our topics that evening had included the visit of the Indian prime minister to the UK, the recapture of Sinjar in Iraq and accusations of state-sponsored doping in Russia. The congenial atmosphere of that unseasonably mild Friday night in the French capital would be broken less than 90 minutes later.

Even those who did not lose loved ones in the attacks outside the Stade de France and in night spots in the city center are dazed. Suicide attackers on French soil are a first. Can a small but determined group of brainwashed foot soldiers alter the Parisian way of life for good?

We now realize what it means to be a target like Ankara, Beirut and most recently northern Nigeria where dozens were killed on Wednesday in the northern cities of Kano and Yola.

Here, it’s all very new and raw. But the fightback has begun and the selfies from café terraces aren’t as glib as they seem. Those raised glasses in the pictures are as many toasts to life over death and toasts as well to the rest of the world. Your messages of support and concern from around the globe these past seven days remind us of how privileged we are to report from a city to which so many feel a bond.

So for seven days, we have slept a little less, hugged our loved ones a little more and wondered how so few can disrupt the lives of so many. Beyond extra security and surveillance, deep-rooted problems near and far need to be confronted.

As politicians have reacted to events imposed on them, so have journalists. They have not taken over our city, but they certainly have taken over our news cycle, hogging all our attention around the clock.

The alienation that drives vulnerable young French citizens to a death cult indeed deserves our full attention. So do the conflicts in Syria and Iraq. This Friday’s edition will of course be devoted to what’s unfolded, but it must be stated, we look forward to devoting proper attention to all the other significant tales that have been pushed down our running order. That too, will be a celebration of life.

Among those who won’t be in master control will be Mathieu Hoche, 37, who after last Friday, lost his life at the Bataclan concert hall.

Perhaps the most fitting tribute came from one of Mathieu’s friends, Antoine Rousseau who the next day tweeted “I’ve lost one of my dearest friends. The bleeping so-and-so loved rock ‘n roll.”