Comments by Estonians dwelling in Paris

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Photo: Erakogu

Marten Kokk

Estonia’s permanent representative at OECD

I live in the 16th district of Paris, rather far from where the attacks took place. I noticed nothing extraordinary [on Friday night] and saw everything on the news.

Today (on Saturday – edit) Paris is a bit quieter than usual. More police patrols are to be seen, and security is up around the larger and more important buildings. Museums, markets, swimming pools and some metro stations are closed. People are trying to carry on with their lives, tourists should follow the advice by Estonian foreign ministry and the French authorities.

The precise impact of the terror attacks on Europe is hard to predict but surely as citizens all need to be more watchful and careful. Certainly security needs to go up as will certainly be the case both in France and elsewhere, but overall people need to carry on their routine lives and not substantially alter their behaviour and views. Creating fear is the main goal of the terrorist groupings and one must try to overcome that.

I am not overly worried for my personal safety, already after the Charlie Hebdo events [this January] OECD boosted security measures. One must follow the advice and orders of the authorities. As usual, the kids go to school on Monday.

Thankfully, in my circle all are alive and the Estonians living in Paris share absolute solidarity with the French.

Aari Lemmik

Former defence ministry employee

On Friday night, with my husband and two of our three children we went to the suburb or Saint Denis, to the Stade de France football stadium, to watch France play Germany. We hoped for a large stadium experience for us and the kids. We sat on the Western stands, the stadium seats about 80,000 and was mostly occupied.

20 minutes into the game two blasts were heard behind the Eastern stands, about five minutes in interval. From that instant I no longer followed the game, but was carefully watching the activities by the security personnel. But as there appeared to be no hustle or running, I soon quieted down, thinking it must have been fireworks or something. The game went on at high tempo and was exciting; at the end of first half, the French scored, the stadium roared and was into waves.

I find the security at the game and the police was very professional in allowing the game to go to its end, being sure there was no direct threat to anyone on the stadium – and, probably, they were convinced in that seeing the President François Hollande was on the stadium as well. At some point during the game there was another blast, weaker and to another direction, but that may have been something else.

We left ten minutes before the game was over, to get into the metro with the kids; we were among the few early leavers as the game was exciting. From the South gate, the security directed all to the North i.e. the metro, and people were unable to board the suburban train at the stop at the stadium.

On the street, people did not seem to know what exactly had happened, but everybody realised something had happened. Untraditionally, people were looking into each other’s faces, as if wishing to share and affirming togetherness.

Maarja Saue

Assistant to main conductor at Orchestre de Paris

The telephone has been ringing constantly. Among the first to call was my employer, Orchestre de Paris main conductor Paavo Järvi. At the moment, he is away from France with the orchestra, touring abroad.

Living near rescue station, police and a hospital, I have been in a kind of an emergency situation the whole night. Helicopters are circling and the tension is felt even through the walls, without looking out the windows.

I learned of the Friday night events just before going to bed. All of a sudden, the phone started ringing and the Facebook windows blinking; everybody was asking where I was and if all was okay. I was okay as I was home laying my little daughter to bed, but my jazz musician husband who was having a routine concert was still downtown working. Thankfully, he was a bit away from the dangerous spots, but I did ask him to head straight home.

When, in the January this year, immediately after the terrorist act at Charlie Hebdo offices, a protest march was organised against what had happened, I also joined up. Immediately, this solidarity sprung up in people and this is felt even today though we are in shock and unable to believe what happened.

I cannot understand against who and why the attack was planned. Why did these young radicals pick Friday 13th? Islam and prejudices are not supposed to go hand in hand? Are they against freedom? We do not live in a war zone here and because of that I was thinking how the numbers take on another meaning – if 200 hundred perish in war, it touches us different that these present numbers.

Karima Bizid

An Estonian Muslim

It all started as if there were the New Year firecrackers going off, but nothing was to be seen. A moment later, they said over the TV what actually happened. The stadium (Stade de France – edit) is quite close to our home; the whole night sirens were heard, it felt really unnerving and my mind still staggers to accept the cadres shown on TV.

This (Saturday – edit) morning, I did not let my Muslim husband go to work. I am really scared, but looking out the window life goes on: some go shopping, some go to work. As if nothing happened.

As the terrorists are merciless, none of us is protected from them. The Jihadists who want to become martyrs in Islam blow themselves up hoping to get to paradise. But no martyr gets to paradise, killing innocent people. That’s what these night-time killers did, as there were children, the elderly and men perishing who were unable to defend themselves. I believe the terrorists who organise bloodbaths know nothing about Islam.