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Monday, January 27, 2020

Paris attacks: On this Paris pavement, the remains of that Friday night

Thousands of Paris residents have been gathering at the historic Republique square to signal that the country hasn't been cowed by Friday night's attacks.

Written by Praveen Swami | Updated: November 18, 2015 7:38:07 pm
A note in memory of a victim, at Rué Bichet. (Express Photo by: Praveen Swami) A note in memory of a victim, at Rué Bichet. (Express Photo by: Praveen Swami)

The messages her friends have left behind, buried in the dense carpet of flowers lining the crossroads at Rué Bichet, narrate the story of a young life populated by those who loved her. There are photographs, too — of parties, get-togethers, a cherished hug.

Fourteen people died here on Friday night, when an Islamic State hit squad opened fire at the Petit Camboge restaurant and Le Carillon. In their last moments, the destinies of people who had never known each other intersected and, as the commemorations on this Paris street show, transformed so many lives forever.

Justine Moulin, 23, was a university student who had gone out with friends for dinner at the Petit Camboge, a popular Cambodian restaurant in the quiet alleys behind Republique square. Late that night, as guests dived below the tables in the desperate hope of staying alive, Moulin took a bullet through the head.

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She died 24 hours later at the famous Saltpetriere hospital, never having come out of her coma.

The sisters Houda and Haatima Sa’adi, Parisians of Tunisian origin in their early 30s, were celebrating a friend’s birthday at another table, police records show. Halima died instantly, Houda hours later.

Ethnomusicologist and violinist Khedreddine Sahbi, a young violinist from Algeria, had moved to Paris to perfect his technique. That Friday, he’d come with friends to Le Carillon.

Amine Ibnolmobarak, an upcoming 28-year-old Morrocon architect, was at the Carillon bar, having a drink with his wife. He died, she suffered three bullet wounds and is still in hospital.

“We are Muslims, you are killers,” someone has written on a piece of paper left among the flowers and candles.

The bar’s happy-hours menu, written in chalk on a blackboard next to its entrance, had stayed intact through the carnage until the rain began to fall on Tuesday.

Less than a 15-minute walk away, 41-year-old Cedric Mauduit was among the hundreds who gathered to listen to Eagles of Death Metal at the Bataclan hall. An employee of the county council in Lion-sur-Mer, Cedric had left his wife at home, along with their children Antoine, 7, and Appoline, 3.

The Moulin family was, in every sense, unexceptional. Justine’s parents, Isabelle and Jean-Yves Moulin, set up home in Asnieres three decades ago, before she was born. Now an executive with Peugeot, Jean-Yves Moulin moved back to Paris, and his daughter would visit regularly.

“Justine was to come today at Nieppe with her two brothers, Jeremy and Jonathan, to spend the day with family,” said François Moulin, Jean-Yves’s brother.

Instead, the family gathered for her burial.

Matthieu Mauduit, the brother of Cedric Mauduit, launched a Facebook campaign, asking for his favourite musicians, David Bowie and the Rolling Stones, to attend his burial.

“Please share this message as much as you can,” his post reads. “I know this project has little chance to succeed but I try.”

Apparently, the smallest things made the difference between life and death that night.

Angela Reina, wife of 29-year-old Spanish electrical engineer Juan Garrido, left her husband’s side to use the bathroom at the Bataclan. She lived. He did not.

Prescillia Correira died next to her boyfriend Manu Perez, their bodies huddled together. “I have no words to tell you all the pain that your departure causes me,” a friend posted on Correira’s Facebook page.

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