France Still Uneasy After 'Charlie Hebdo' Attacks
ARUN RATH, HOST:
France is still reeling from its deadliest terror attack in decades. Seventeen people were killed this week in shootings and hostage-takings across the Paris area. Three suspects in those attacks have been killed, but police continue to search for a 26-year-old woman they describe as the partner of one of the gunmen. Lauren Frayer is in Paris following developments and joins us now. Lauren, what's the mood like in Paris today?
LAUREN FRAYER, BYLINE: Well, there are more police on the streets. Even regular traffic cops seem to be wearing heavier gear. There are increased patrols on public transport, and city squares across Paris have become impromptu memorials. We're seeing candles laid out, pens and pencils strewn on the ground in memory of those slain Charlie Hebdo cartoonists from that satirical magazine. The now famous slogan, je suis Charlie, is everywhere. I saw it in seven different languages in one shop window. Flags are at half-staff. The city's famed Paris Saint-Germain soccer team wore black armbands and held a moment of silence before today's game. We're also prepping for a big march tomorrow. Hundreds of thousands of people are expected, if not more. This is a solidarity march for the victims of these attacks. Public transport is going to be free all day tomorrow.
RATH: We've been hearing reports about attacks on some mosques in France. Have you seen any of that?
FRAYER: That's right. So not personally, but we are hearing those reports. France has Western Europe's largest Muslim community. It's 10 percent of the population here, so people are bracing for backlash. Today, I went to the Grand Mosque in Paris. There's no additional security there. I was able to walk right in and actually talk to the Grand Mufti.
DALIL BOUBAKEUR: It is a criminal action. They are criminal people. They are barbaric people, very bad for Muslim people and with risks of violence against Islam, against Muslims.
FRAYER: That was the Grand Mufti of the Grand Mosque in Paris, Dalil Boubakeur. I also went to Paris' largest synagogue, which, in contrast, was closed and lined with security barriers. The Jewish community has been on edge here because it was a kosher market targeted yesterday where four hostages were killed. And this is apparently the first time since World War II that Paris' Grand Synagogue was closed for the Jewish Sabbath. The policeman outside told me he's part of a unit of police reinforcements that was brought in from southern France. Others have been brought in from elsewhere as well.
RATH: Lauren, are we learning anything more about the suspects in terms of their ties to terror groups and their training?
FRAYER: Yes. There has been a claim of responsibility. A French television station last night aired tape of a phone call that it says it made to one of the suspects, the younger of the two Kouachi brothers. Those are the brothers who police believe were responsible for the Charlie Hebdo killings. This television station claims to have spoken to the suspect before he died on the telephone. They called the building where they were holed - he and his brother were holed up and spoke with the younger of the brothers. The man told the French reporter that he was prepared to die, that he killed in defense of the prophet and that he was sent by Al-Qaeda in Yemen.
RATH: Lauren Frayer in Paris. Lauren, thank you.
FRAYER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.