The name of Paris has become synonymous to a very terrible terror attack, as a state of emergency still continues in France. It is the worst victim of terror attacks carried out by the so-called Islamic State or its followers. Yet, life has to go on.
The Bangladeshi capital Dhaka too fell victim to the meaningless terror attack a few months back, and the memories of it are still fresh in our minds. What is important to note is that how the term “zero tolerance” on terrorism has been proved by successful elimination of many wayward Muslim youths who were inspired by IS. This has to continue until the seeds are uprooted.
A sudden weekend plan to visit Paris was well worth it, although the fear of a terror attack was in my mind.
It is scary, but not easy to avoid, as I realised why some of my British friends were confused about visiting Bangladesh these days.
Paris, for me, is the home of one of my most respected artists, Shahabuddin Ahmed. He has a lovely home, and we discussed everything from love to hate in his beautiful, plant-filled apartment, surrounded by incredible paintings of the artist.
The best thing to do is to undertake the trip without giving an ear to others, or to your confused mind.
As the Air France aircraft touched down at Paris’s Charles De Gaulle International Airport, I told myself that finally a dream has come true -- to be in Paris and feel the city in all of its entirety.
Paris now is back to its original style, and everyone is enjoying it, as none is ready to bow down to terrorism
By the courtesy of my host and old Dhaka University friend, Ambassador M Shahidul Islam, I was welcomed by our mission’s protocol officer at the airport, and was driven through Paris to the beautiful “Bangladesh House.”
The first topic with Shahidul was about the Paris terror attacks. He said it was a few days of fear, but slowly things have become normal. In the late afternoon, I went straight to the Eiffel Tower. The tall and towering Eiffel had a long queue for tickets to go up and see Paris; people are already back from around the world.
Then I noticed the first traces of the hidden fear -- heavily armed army soldiers on foot moving around. A few yards away were the heavily armed policemen.
They were keeping an eye on everyone, moving around the city including the beautiful Champs-Élysées. This area is wonderful, and was bustling with tourists eating and shopping in brand stores. I walked into a perfume shop. It was so crowded that I could hardly move, but was security checked at the entry, which I welcomed.
I asked the salesgirl if she remembered the terror attack in Paris. She said in broken English that it was horrible, but: “We have to continue to live and work ... the few days were very worrying.”
For tourists, a day in and around Champs-Élysées is a must to get a feel of Paris, the city of magic, as a young Bangladeshi told me. The group of these Bangladeshis have converged in Paris from different parts of Europe, and never want to leave the city.
“Terror is everywhere, but the French government has handled it very well, and thus we are not scared any more, but always remain careful,” said one of them.
He said: “Paris now is back to its original style, and everyone is enjoying it, as none is ready to bow down to terrorism.”
I realised, as I moved around Paris for three days, that Parisians have overcome and have revolted against the terrorists. We, in Bangladesh, have shown an equal stand, and in some cases, our security forces have been very successful.
Dhaka’s restaurants are coming back to life, and I give kudos to Dhakaites for that. We must spurn terrorists, rather than bow down to them.
Nadeem Qadir, a senior journalist, is a UNCA Dag Hammarskjold Scholar in journalism. He is the Press Minister of Bangladesh High Commission in London.