Des monuments

I noticed this memorial last year and came across it again recently:

in memory of

In 1961 dozens if not hundreds of Algerians were drowned in the Seine by French police in a terrible massacre. It’s shocking to find out about these events in the recent past of a country and even worse, to find out how little was known about them until very recently. I guess every country deals with their atrocities in similar ways: deny and ignore until it’s no longer possible. Now I find the memorials to the soldiers who “died for their fatherland” in the Algerian war even more galling.

I’ve seen those plaques commemorising various things all over Paris. They are usually accompanied with a metal contraption to fix a bouquet of flowers to the wall on the day when the event is being commemorated. There’s one for the bombing of the RER station Port Royal in the 90s, for example. Something I don’t even remember, even though I visited Paris when I was 17, which must have been 1998. Seeing them makes me all apprehensive about the upcoming anniversary of the shootings of November 13.

It’s only two days after armistice day, which is a national holiday in France.

I recently heard on the news that on the night before the anniversary Bataclan will be reopened with a Sting concert. I was pretty surprised. I didn’t think it would ever reopen and I have a hard time imagining attending a concert at a place were 80 people died. Security measures are crazy enough at places that weren’t affected. The one time we went to the Olympia theatre to see Eddie Izzard do stand up we were patted down and my bag was checked twice.

I also heard on the radio that tourism in France has suffered since last year. Instead of moving away from useless bag checks like the one in the shopping mall at Les Halles, security measures will be ramped up. I still don’t believe having a security guard glance at the top of my computer and wave at it with a magic wand that never beeps actually makes anyone safer. But I have gotten used to it all. I am no longer surprised by armed soldiers patrolling the street. I remember that that freaked me out a lot in the beginning. Now I didn’t even question that they put barriers all around the Eiffel tower and that you can no longer walk underneath it without queueing for a security check first.

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