November 16, 2015

France - Terrorist shootings of 13 November 2015: "A turning point for France: Paris Deputy Mayor" (Parvathi Menon)

The Hindu
November 17, 2015

A turning point for France: Paris Deputy Mayor
by Parvathi Menon

Celia Blauel, Deputy Mayor for Paris.

Celia Blauel, Deputy Mayor for Paris in charge of environment and sustainable development, spoke to The Hindu at the Hotel de Ville or City Hall about the implications of Friday’s terrorist attacks in the city for politics, COP21, and France’s way of life.

It is the third day after the terrorist attacks in Paris in which over a hundred people were killed and scores injured. How would you assess the popular and official response to the crisis?

At the popular level, I would say that the people have reacted with dignity and strength. Even on Saturday people were out on the streets saying life will go on and we are not afraid. The people of Paris are even stronger than I knew them to be, so it is a really good feeling I have about that. At the level of the government, both at the national and the municipality level, we can be really proud of how the security forces, the police and all the people in the hospitals were really good and ready to react. We have to see the political reactions now.

Could you be more specific in your answer, especially as France is now under a state of emergency. Do you think that will change life as people know it because they will have to be constantly vigilant?

I definitely think the events are a turning point in France. It was not just a terror attack, but an act of war, so definitely things are going to change. We will need more security, but [we] must also find a balance between maintaining normal life and individual liberty, and security needs. This is going to be organised in the next few days in discussions between the City of Paris and the national government, but I am really optimistic that everything will be fruitful and for the best for people here.

Do you fear that the aim of the Daish, which is to sow differences among people, might be realised?

Actually, right now I think that they have totally failed. I have seen my country and my city really united this weekend, whatever peoples religion or place of origin. I am much more afraid about what bad politicians can do with that event [ie, the attacks] if they try to strengthen [deepen] differences between people.

Do you think that the parties of the right could get oxygen from this event?

We are going to be running for election in December so we will see at that time. They are trying to play with that event to get some more votes. I [would] just say that the people who are going to be voting should know that this is no solution. The far right are interested in dividing French society, they have no vision for our society, and we have to stick together whoever we are and wherever we come from.

You are a member of the Green Party. Do you think that COP21 will be held ?

It is very important that we don’t cancel this really important meeting for the planet and the communities of the world. Anyway, the meeting will need security and right now the state is preparing to make it happen. And again with the new security measures questions will be raised about whether we will have the 29 November march. Right now we don’t know if it is going to be held. We need some more days to think and discuss about it.