Sunday, November 22, 2015


Ever since journalists started mentioning that the recent Paris shootings were the worst attack on Parisians since 1944, I’ve been wondering what happened that year, apart from the liberation of Paris in August. Like many people, I’d always thought Paris had not suffered much bombing during WWII even though I had once seen pictures of a damaged building propped up by heavy black timbers. It took a bit of digging to turn up this:

On the night of April 21st 1944, in preparation for the Normandy landings on June 6th, British and American bombers targeted  German-run factories and rail yards in occupied Paris. 
641 Parisians were killed and 377 wounded. (Photo RATP:Porte de la Chapelle)

Much worse than the recent attacks but that was war.

In peace time Paris has experienced many assassinations and terrorist attacks over the centuries:

1800: Attempted assassination of Napoleon Bonaparte (22 dead 50+ wounded)
1835: attempted assassination of King Louis Phillippe (18 dead, 22 injured)
1893: An anarchist’s bomb was thrown into the Chambre des deputés (0 dead, 1 wounded).
1894: Anarchist Emile Henry detonated a bomb in the Gare St. Lazare (1 dead, 20 wounded)
1894: Carnot, the president of France, was stabbed to death by an Italian anarchist.
1914 – 1958: Various assassinations took place in Paris.
1962: Quai d’Orsay bombed by the OAS (1 dead, 12 wounded)
1974: The Drugstore St-Germain-des-Près bombed, allegedly by Carlos. (2 dead, 34 injured)
1975: Two RPG attacks on Orly by Carlos. (0 dead, 24 injured)
      Bomb attack at Gare de l’Est ( 1 dead, 6 wounded)
       Hostages taken at the Iraqi embassy (1 dead, 2 injured)
1978: Three terrorists shoot El Al passengers at Orly (4 dead, 5 injured)
1979: A bombing at a Jewish hostel and an assassination on the Champs Elysees (1 dead, 32 injured)
1980: 2 assassinations (2 dead) and 3 bombings (3 dead 42 wounded)
1981:  Shooting (2 dead, 1 wounded), bombing (15 wounded), hostages taken at Turkish consulate (2 dead, 2 injured)
1982: Assassination of US Asst. Army Attaché by Lebanese Armed Revolutionary Faction.
    Anti-Syrian newspaper car bombing (1 dead, 60 injured)
    Bombing on café terrace Place Saint-Michel by ASLA (0 dead, 51 injured)
    Shooting rue des Rosiers by Abu Nidal Org. (6 dead, 22 wounded)
    Bombing at Israeli consulate (0 dead, 51 injured)
1983: Bombing at Turkish travel agency (1 dead, 4 injured)
     Bombing at Orly by ASLALA (8 dead, 56 injured)
1984: Assassination of UAE ambassador by the ANO (1 dead)
1985:  2 shooting & 3 bombings (2 dead 75 wounded)
1986: Multiple bombings  from Feb – Nov (15 dead, 250 injured)
1988: Arson in cinema showing The Last Temptation of Christ by a Catholic group. (0 dead, 14 injured)
1995/6: Bombings in the Métro and RER (12 dead, 310- injured)
2004: Bombing of Indonesian Embassy by an Islamic group (0 dead, 10 injured)
2013: Stabbing of a French soldier by an Islamist (1 wounded)
2015: January - Shooting of a policewoman, Charlie Hebdo artists and Kosher Supermarket customers by Islamic terrorists (20 dead, 22 injured)

         -November - Simultaneous bombings and shootings at 6 places around Paris (130 dead, 352 injured) – a different kind of terrorism, not aimed at a specific group but at all citizens.

             So, to those who would offer advice and prayers for Paris 
                    from their limited experience and those who  
                            try to terrorise Paris, Parisians reply: 
Not for nothing is our motto
Art by Joann Sfar.

Saturday, November 14, 2015


Written by Rouget de Lisle when France
declared war against Austria in 1792,
seen here personified by Rude 
on the Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile in Paris,
was often mocked for the ferocity
and blood-thirstiness of its words.
Today they seem apt.
There are many many words to La Marseillaise
but only the following verse and refrain are usually sung:

Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos bras
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes!

Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos bataillons,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons! (bis)

Arise, children of the Motherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us tyranny's
Bloody banner is raised,(repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into our arms
To cut the throats of our sons, our companions!

To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
So impure blood
Flows in our furrows! (Repeat)

Drawing by Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Joann Sfar

No prayers for Paris, thank you. Fluctuat nec mergitur!
Paris is an ancient city, it has seen many other terrorist campaigns and wars, some of which brought it to its knees but didn’t stop it rising again
to be the epitome of love, beauty, freedom and joie-de-vivre 
that the world knows and loves.
Vive Paris et vive la France! 

                Paris, Fluctuat nec Mergitur, IgnoramusesAttackParis,
                      Don'tPrayForParis, La Marseillaise, France