Central Florida French Community Honors Victims of Paris Attacks
The French National anthem echoed from the crowded room where more than a hundred Frenchmen and women and their supporters stood. Some waved small flags. Others bowed their heads in deep reflection. Though more than 4,000 miles from Paris, the shock of the attacks has been surreal among them. Parisian artist Julien Nonnon saw the shooting rampage unfold from his living room in the city.
‘Tomorrow, it can be in other cities,” he said. “In other countries. No one is safe. I think that today, if we can united to destroy this group, then well, voila.”
Sanford-based French priest Father Marc Vernoit’s sister survived the attacks. He blames the violence on France’s difficulty accepting Muslims and immigrants.
“If you don’t love your roots, your history, your family, you cannot love. And you’re unable to integrate people coming from outside. And this is the problem in France today. And I think here, as well.”
The French community’s message has been to keep living, and to fight fear of terrorism with friendship and solidarity for compatriots. Margaret Ortiz-Tudor agrees that unity is essential, but she says Syrian refugee resettlement policies are important, too. She came to the US as a Cuban refugee in the 1960s, but calls federal officials’ policies on admitting Syrian refugees “a whole different ballgame.”
“These are terrorists trying to pose as refugees, and there’s a real danger there,” she said. “They did it in Paris. They could do it here.”
The French consulate will hold another rally Friday at 5:30 p.m. at Chez Vincent in Winter Park.
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