September 25, 2021

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Trial Over November 2015 Paris Terrorist Attacks Begins – The New York Times

2 min read

For some survivors, a door slamming or a car backfiring may be all it takes.

Ms. Garnier escaped from the Bataclan uninjured after bursting through an emergency exit. But she wants to see the accused in person and wants the world to understand what victims have been through: the exhausting hyper-vigilance, the endless medical procedures, the administrative obstacle course to get compensation from France’s official victim’s fund, the isolation from friends and family, the broken careers.

“To measure the real impact that this event had on our lives,” Ms. Garnier said. “So that they really realize that six years later, it’s still very, very close.”

Stéphanie Zarev, 48, who was also in the Bataclan that night, said that for years she was plagued by panic attacks and flashbacks. She has avoided watching or reading about the attacks.

“But now,” she said, “I need to know.”

She hopes that the testimonies will help her understand how the attacks came to be. Her fear is that the trial, delayed by the coronavirus pandemic and coinciding with France’s 2022 presidential election, will be used to score political points.

While France has avoided a mass casualty attack since a 2016 truck massacre in Nice, a string of smaller-scale stabbings and shootings have kept terrorism fears particularly acute.

“In France, there was a before and after Nov. 13, 2015, just like in the United States there was a before and after Sept. 11,” said Georges Fenech, a former lawmaker who led a parliamentary inquiry into the 2015 attacks that found failings by French security services.

In both cases, “we were the victims of new forms of terrorist threats that were previously unknown, and that challenged all of our strategies,” he said, acknowledging that France, which has passed a raft of antiterrorism and anti-extremism bills in recent years, had put in place many of the inquiry’s recommendations.

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