Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Paris. Show all posts

February 6, 2019

Disneyland Will Officiate The Gay Day Pride Event in Paris!

disneyland, paris, france Stock Photo
Disneyland Paris is officially opening its gates to a celebration called Magical Pride at the start of Pride Month in June this year. The theme park’s website states that through the event, it seeks to celebrate diversity with a “dazzling party” that includes a parade, a dance party, late-night rides and more surprises on June 1.
Travel packages are available at the website, with a Magical Pride ticket starting at £78.28 (around P5,340).
This is the first time that Disneyland Paris is officially acknowledging the LGBTQ+ pride event after unofficial ones have been held at the theme park since 2014, reported CBS last Feb. 1.
“Gay days” have also been routinely held at Disney theme parks in the United States since 1991 amid criticism from religious and conservative groups.
A Walt Disney Company spokesperson told NBC News, “Diversity and equality are strong values at Disneyland Paris, and each year, we host millions of visitors regardless of their origins, gender or sexual orientation.”
“We are committed to fostering a welcoming environment for all of our Guests where magic is for everyone.”  /ra 

  @inquirerdotnet on Twitter 

January 19, 2019

Gay Artists in Beautiful Paris Stage a Look Back

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin

By Laura Cappelle

PARIS — Two related scenes are currently playing out in theaters here. In “Les Idoles” (“The Idols”), at the Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, the actress Marina Foïs recounts in detail the death of the philosopher Michel Foucault, in 1984, of an AIDS-related illness. At the Espace Cardin, Foucault’s homosexuality is seen through the eyes of his first biographer, the sociologist Didier Eribon, in “Retour à Reims” (“Returning to Reims”).

In both productions, prominent French gay artists reclaim their pasts with striking honesty. “Retour à Reims,” staged by the German director Thomas Ostermeier, is based on Mr. Eribon’s 2009 memoir-cum-essay about his working-class roots, while the writer and director Christophe Honoré looks back at the artistic heroes — those “idols” — he lost to AIDS in his youth.

Mr. Honoré may be better known for films including “Love Songs,” but his theater work is in some ways more ambitious and original. His recent plays have brought real individuals back to life and imagined, with the benefit of hindsight, how they might have interacted: “Nouveau Roman,” in 2012, focused on the 20th-century French literary movement of the same name; “Les Idoles” brings together six writers and filmmakers who died between 1989 and 1994.

Extensive research clearly went into the play, but Mr. Honoré doesn’t strive for truthfulness. He isn’t preoccupied with physical likeness, for starters, and regularly casts women in male roles onstage. In “Les Idoles,” Ms. Foïs plays Hervé Guibert, whose autobiographical novel “To the Friend Who Did Not Save My Life” evoked Foucault’s last days, while the part of the filmmaker Jacques Demy is taken with gusto by Marlène Saldana, in a fur coat and heels. 

Some of the characters in “Les Idoles” enjoy more public recognition than others. Mr. Demy is one of them, and the playwrights Jean-Luc Lagarce and Bernard-Marie Koltès are both revered names on the French stage. A creation about them might easily have turned into a series of reverential obituaries, but Mr. Honoré gives “Les Idoles” a welcome lightness of touch.

The men are portrayed as witty, imperfect individuals rather than austere icons to be worshiped. They are as likely to launch into a dance number as they are to debate the attributes of the ideal lover: Ms. Saldana’s rendition of “Chanson d’un jour d’été,” from Mr. Demy’s musical film “The Young Girls of Rochefort,” is an unlikely highlight.

The play still brings up unsettling questions about the ways in which the AIDS crisis affected the arts community, in France and beyond. If some of those who died had survived, would their legacy be perceived differently today? Did artists who were sick have a duty to speak up, or was staying in the closet — as Mr. Demy did — an acceptable choice? Throughout, Mr. Honoré contrasts the crusade by Elizabeth Taylor (also played by Ms. Saldana) to raise awareness of the disease and funds for research in the United States with the relative public discretion of artists in France.

The cast contributes expertly tragicomic performances in a production that acts as a lucid, intimate “adieu” to a formative era for Mr. Honoré. When the filmmaker Cyril Collard is left alone at the end, calling out the names of his dead peers only to be met with silence, the void they left behind is palpable. 

From left, Irène Jacob, Blade M.C. Alimbaye and Cédric Eeckhout in “Retour à Reims” at the Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville.CreditMathilda Olmi
Mr. Eribon’s “Retour à Reims” is even more personal, but it doesn’t translate as easily to the stage. Mr. Ostermeier, who leads Berlin’s Schaubühne theater, has acknowledged there is “nothing theatrical” about the book, which intertwines autobiography and social theory. Regardless, the director has tackled it in three languages: He first adapted it in 2017 with the actress Nina Hoss, who performed it in English and in German, and has now brought a French version to Paris. 

It’s a spare, unhurried experience. Irène Jacob, replacing Ms. Hoss, plays a voice-over artist working on a documentary inspired by Mr. Eribon’s experiences. For 45 minutes or so, she merely reads from the book as the fictional documentary — which includes footage of Mr. Eribon and his aging mother — unfolds on a screen above her head. Slowly, however, disagreements about the project arise with the filmmaker who hired her, played by Cédric Eeckhout.

Mr. Ostermeier originally designed the production to allow Ms. Hoss to touch on her own father’s political career in Germany, and the French version feels like a compromise of sorts. In the lead role, Ms. Jacob objects to some of Mr. Eeckhout’s cuts in the text and to the use of footage from the recent “yellow vest” protests in France to illustrate a point about the far right, but her character otherwise lacks a strong identity.

The film is only intermittently revelatory, too, giving this “Retour à Reims” a disjointed feel. Although the production marks the first appearance of the yellow vests in French theater, they are discussed only in passing. A third character, played by Blade M. C. Alimbaye, is present throughout and performs a couple of songs, yet a key story — of his African grandfather, who fought for France in World War II — isn’t introduced until the last 10 minutes.  

The visceral force of Ms. Liddell’s confessional monologues has salvaged many of her productions. Not so here. In attempting to react to the social mood, the director and performer, who describes herself as a “recluse,” bites off more than she can chew. “I don’t like this world where women have stopped loving men,” she says early on. “No woman loves enough anymore.” This sets the scene for rants so misogynistic that they would probably land a male performer in artistic exile.

In any event, “The Scarlet Letter” proves so over the top that Ms. Liddell’s ode to the superiority of men mostly prompted awkward laughs at one recent performance at the Théâtre de la Colline. The contrast with “Saison Sèche” couldn’t be starker. In Ms. Ménard’s latest work, seven women were trapped under a white ceiling that moved up and down. Their way out was to slowly take on the appearance of men, in the style of drag kings, until the walls around them began to visibly erode and crumble.

With no text, this metaphor for the glass ceiling relied entirely on Ms. Ménard’s taut staging and precise physical direction. Her vision comes across with increasing clarity these days, just as #MeToo has brought her staunchly feminist stance closer to the mainstream. This might just be a banner year for her.

An image from “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel, at the Théâtre de la Colline.CreditSimon Gosselin
The new year in Paris has also featured two female directors at odds with each other. While Phia Ménard, a Frenchwoman, channeled the feminist anger that crystallized in #MeToo in “Saison Sèche” (“Dry Season”), the polarizing Spanish director Angelica Liddell rails against the same movement in “The Scarlet Letter,” loosely inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 1850 novel.

Les Idoles
Les Idoles. Directed by Christophe Honoré. Odéon — Théâtre de l’Europe, through Feb. 1.
Retour à Reims. Directed by Thomas Ostermeier. Espace Cardin/Théâtre de la Ville, through Feb. 16.
Saison Sèche. Directed by Phia Ménard; was at MC93.
The Scarlet Letter. Directed by Angelica Liddell. Théâtre de la Colline, through Jan. 26.

November 2, 2018

Surge in Paris Homophobic Attacks

The figures tell one story; gay activists fear another.
But nobody disputes that Paris has suffered a string of homophobic attacks in recent months, with gay men set upon in a chic inner-city neighborhood and a trans prostitute shot dead in a popular cruising spot in the French capital.
Yet police say their data show a strong drop in homophobic attacks, so the mood among activists has turned angry, fear of the what-next jostling with frustration at perceived inaction by authorities in a city with a reputation for tolerance.
Sitting in the lounge of Paris's LGBT Centre, 68-year-old activist Arnaud Rault told Reuters he felt "on edge" following the rise in anti-gay violence.
"We saw August as a signal," Rault said, referring to the murder of Vanesa Campos, a Peruvian transgender prostitute who was shot dead in Paris' Bois du Boulogne.
Earlier this month, two men were harassed and beaten by a Paris taxi driver for kissing in his cab in the "city of love."
The couple immediately pressed charges.
Police have logged a 37 percent drop in reports of LGBT+ related attacks during the first nine months of this year, with 74 incidents reported against 118 in the same period of 2017.
However, activists say the numbers do not tell the whole story as many assaults go unreported.
"[The police figures] are not representative, since not all victims of LGBT violence file an official complaint," said Joel Deumier, president of SOS Homophobie.
The organization, which runs a free hotline service so LGBT+ victims of assault can report the attacks anonymously, said it had received a 15 percent increase in calls over the past year
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community protest against discrimination and violence, at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, Oct. 21, 2018.
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community protest against discrimination and violence, at the Place de la Republique in Paris, France, Oct. 21, 2018.
In response, the Paris Prefecture told Reuters that its job was to "collect statistics based on reported assaults." As for providing any additional numbers, the police said "that's where the work of NGOs comes in."
According to SOS Homophobie's 2018 report on homophobia in France, one LGBT+ person is assaulted every three days.
Take to the streets
More than 3,000 people — including members of French President Emmanuel Macron's government — gathered Sunday in Paris to denounce the violence and demand action.
"The government must take concrete measures to contain this wave of homophobia," said Deumier, who demanded the government increase its annual 500,000 euros ($570,000) budget allocated toward fighting anti-LGBT+ hate.
Addressing the crowd, Guillaume Melanie, president of Urgence Homophobie, an organization that helps LGBT+ people to seek asylum in France, recounted how he had been assaulted just days earlier in an attack that had left his nose broken.
"I didn't steal anything, I didn't insult anyone, I didn't attack anyone. I'm just homosexual," Melanie told Reuters at the demonstration.
Melanie says he was punched in the face and verbally harassed while leaving a restaurant in the Marais, an elegant Paris district with a strong gay culture.
Shortly after posting about his assault on social media, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said the recent series of homophobic attacks "calls for a collective action."
The deputy mayor Emmanuel Gregoire, who attended Sunday's rally, said he and Hidalgo would meet a number of LGBT+ associations, police representatives and other government organizations over the coming weeks to work out next steps.
They would seek to establish a response to what he called the "resurgence of homophobic violence."
Possible extension of gay rights
The attacks come as France considers legalizing assisted reproduction for gay women — a campaign promise by the centrist president. The move would mark a significant extension of gay rights in France, where violent protests preceded the legalization of same-sex marriage and adoption by homosexual couples in 2013.
France's gender equality minister Marlene Schiappa insisted the Macron government was working to suppress the current spate of violence.
"The state is with them," she told a television reporter.
"Homophobia is not an opinion, you do not have the right in France to threat, aggress, insult or discriminate against someone because of their sexual orientation."

April 21, 2017

Officer Xavier Jugele 37, a Defender of Gay Rights killed in Paris

 He was a proud defender of gay rights, joining protests against Russia’s ban on “homosexual propaganda” before the 2014 Olympics. He once went to Greece to help police officers deal with migrants who had crossed the Aegean Sea and were seeking shelter in the European Union. He was among the officers who responded to a terrorist attack at the Bataclan in November 2015, and he was in the crowd when Sting helped reopen the concert hall a year later.

Xavier Jugelé, 37, a Paris police officer since 2010, himself fell victim to terrorism Thursday evening. He was in a police vehicle on the heavily guarded Champs-Élysées, Paris’s most famous boulevard, when a gunman opened fire, killing him and wounding two other officers, along with a bystander.

The gunman was shot dead as he tried to flee; the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack a short while later.

Officer Jugelé was mourned on Friday by friends and fellow officers.

“He was a simple man who loved his job, and he was really committed to the L.G.B.T. cause,” said Mickaël Bucheron, president of Flag, a French association for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender police officers. “He joined the association a few years ago, and he protested with us when there was the homosexual propaganda ban at the Sochi Olympic Games.” 

The son of a former member of the armed forces, Officer Jugelé was born in 1979 in Bourges and grew up in Romorantin-Lanthenay in central France. He was in a civil union. He and his partner did not have children.

Before 2010, Officer Jugelé was part of the Gendarmerie, one of the two national police forces. He recently had farewell drinks with colleagues because he was set to leave the Paris force and join the Judicial Police, an agency that pursues suspects and serves search warrants, among other functions.

“He was aware of the risks of the job and the terrorist threat, although we did not speak a lot about it,” Mr. Bucheron said. “He was a great man and friend, it is a big shock for us.”

Flag also issued news releases on Facebook and Twitter.

Yves Lefebvre, secretary general of the police union Unité S.G.P. Police-Force Ouvrière, said that Officer Jugelé had been known for his professionalism and as “an excellent colleague.”

President François Hollande of France, speaking from the Élysée Palace on Thursday evening, said that an official tribute would be paid to Officer Jugelé in the coming days. 

Xavier Jugelé, the police officer killed on Thursday in Paris. Credit Association of L.G.B.T. Police in France
Matthias Fekl, the French interior minister, visited the hospital where the two wounded police officers were being treated and expressed his support on Twitter for their relatives.

France has been under a state of emergency since the attacks of November 2015 in and around Paris. Officer Jugelé was part of the team that responded to the Bataclan, where 90 people were killed. He returned to the concert hall a year later when the 19th-century building reopened.

“I’m happy to be here,” he told People Magazine in an interview. “Glad the Bataclan is reopening. It’s symbolic. We’re here tonight as witnesses. Here to defend our civic values. This concert’s to celebrate life. To say no to terrorists.”

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Police and security officers have been especially concerned after a string of attacks targeting law enforcement:

■ Three police officers — Franck Brinsolaro, Clarissa Jean-Philippe and Ahmed Merabet — were killed in attacks on the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, on a Jewish grocery store and in a Paris suburb in 2015.

■ A year later, officers fatally shot a man who was wielding a cleaver and yelling “God is great” as he tried to attack a police station in northern Paris.

■ In June 2016, a Paris police captain, Jean-Baptiste Salvaing, was fatally stabbed at his home, along with his longtime partner, Jessica Schneider, a civil servant, who was killed as the couple’s 3-year-old son watched. The attack took place in Magnanville and was claimed by the Islamic State.

■ In February, a man armed with two large knives and shouting “God is great” lunged at a military patrol near an entrance to the Louvre. He was shot.

■ In March, a gunman was shot dead by a military patrol at Orly Airport, south of Paris, after he attacked a soldier, prompting a partial evacuation of the airport.

In response to the attack in Magnanville, France eased gun restrictions to allow off-duty police officers to carry their side arms, even when the nation is not under a state of emergency.

The 10,000 soldiers who have been deployed across France since January 2015 to secure crowded or sensitive areas have also been targeted over the past few years, often by lone assailants who were inspired by radical Islamist propaganda but had no connections to wider networks.


February 12, 2017

Paris Protests Turn Violent Over Police Rape of Young Black Man

Sporadic clashes broke out Saturday in the Paris suburb of Bobigny, where some 2,000 people had gathered to protest against police brutality and the alleged rape of a 22-year-old man by an officer wielding a truncheon.

Demonstrators held placards reading “police rapes” and “police kills innocents” as they rallied outside the Bobigny courthouse, north-east of the French capital, surrounded by a large contingent of riot police.

While the rally was mostly peaceful, reporters at the scene said clashes broke out after a handful of protesters hurled projectiles at police and several vehicles were set alight, including a van belonging to RTL radio station. Officers responded with tear gas.

Earlier in the day, four people were arrested in the Mediterranean port city of Marseille on the sidelines of another march against police violence, officials said. Similar protests took place in other French cities, including Toulouse and Orléans.

The unrest in Bobigny follows several nights of violence in Paris' northern outskirts, triggered by the brutal arrest last week of a black man identified only as Theo, in the nearby suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois.

The youth worker suffered such severe injuries to his rectum during the arrest that he needed major emergency surgery and remains in hospital.

One policeman has been placed under investigation for rape, suspected of deliberately shoving a truncheon into the young man’s rectum.

Three other officers have been charged with “deliberate violence in a group”.

On Thursday, police sources said their own investigation into the incident had concluded that the injuries were not inflicted intentionally.

The case has revived past controversies over the relationship between police and immigrant communities in France’s rundown suburbs, where police are regularly accused of discrimination and brutality.

In 2005, the death of two teenagers who were electrocuted while hiding from police in an electricity substation sparked weeks of riots in France. Around 10,000 cars were burned and 6,000 people were arrested.

The latest case comes in the midst of a presidential election campaign and follows the death of 24-year-old Adama Traore in police custody in another Parisian suburb last year.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

February 9, 2017

Thousands Demonstrate in Paris After Black Man Raped, Beaten by Cops

 One officer has been charged over the alleged rape while three others have been charged over use of excessive force

Demonstrators have taken to the streets in and around Paris to protest the alleged beating and rape of a black man by French police.
The unrest has gone on nearly a week, and "rioters have clashed with police and have set fire to trash cans, cars and a nursery school," reported Jake Cigainero for NPR's Newscast unit.
Four police officers have been suspended and charged in connection with the incident, according to a statement by the French Interior Ministry. Three face assault charges and one faces a charge of rape.
The victim, referred to by officials as “Theo," gave the BBC a graphic account of what he says happened to him.
The BBC reported Theo said he left his house last Thursday evening and found himself in the middle of a police operation targeting drug dealers:
"Theo said he was sodomized with a truncheon, as well as racially abused, spat at and beaten around his genitals," the broadcaster reported. "He has undergone emergency surgery for severe anal injuries, and has been declared unfit for work for 60 days.
" 'I fell on to my stomach, I had no strength left,' he said.
“He was then sprayed with tear gas around the head and in the mouth and hit over the head." 

 On Tuesday, French President Francois Hollande visited Theo in the hospital, and later praising his dignity in a tweet, which included a photo of Hollande by his bedside.
CNN reported that police arrested 26 people on Wednesday, according to a spokesperson for the local prefecture in the suburb of Seine-Saint-Denis northeast of Paris, where the incident occurred.
Those arrests followed two previous nights of demonstrations in the region, CNN reported:
"A few miles away, near Paris' Ménilmontant metro station, several hundred demonstrators gathered to protest police violence. Authorities say 17 people were arrested in Aulnay-sous-Bois on Tuesday night, after protesters torched garbage bins and vehicles.
"Videos shared on social media showed clashes between riot police and youths as fires burned in the streets. Police fired warning shots into the air to disperse the crowd, according to French reports.
"On Monday, hundreds of peaceful protesters marched in the same northern suburb. Demonstrators carried banners reading 'Justice for Theo' past a nearby building that had 'police, rapists' written on it in graffiti."

Police block a street as people gather to protest police on Feb. 8.
Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images
Stephane Troussel, the president of the General Council of the Seine-Saint-Denis region, said the incident brought up "numerous questions," reported German broadcaster Deutsche Welle.
"Although thousands of police are doing their work properly...too many arrests end in nightmares for some young people. The image of the Republic is being tarnished,” Troussel said.

November 23, 2015

Video games, Gay games and Religion games for Abdeslam the Terrorist on the Loose (latest)


The brothers’ tastes would appear to make them unlikely ISIS extremists. The terror group brutally punishes homosexuality, often hurling gay men off buildings or stoning them to death, along with alcohol or drug use.

Friends of Abdeslam say the fugitive has Skyped them in recent days. His brother, Mohammed, told reporters that he believes Salah “is not far away”, sparking suspicion he may be holed up in Belgium’s capital.

“We had him down as a rent boy”

Brussels went into lockdown on Saturday, shuttering its metro system, canceling concerts, postponing soccer games and telling locals to stay out of crowds amid fears of a “serious and imminent” terror attack.

“We are talking about the threat that several individuals with arms and explosives would launch an attack perhaps in several locations at the same time,” Prime Minister Charles Michel said.
Investigators are still trying to untangle Abdeslam’s role in the carnage in Paris, where 130 people were killed and 350 injured. He and Brahim joined in the carefully planned assaults on restaurants, a concert hall and the national stadium with at least six other extremists.

Abdeslam may have rented two of the three cars used in the attacks, French police say, but they don’t know if he acted as a driver or as a shooter. They believe he abandoned a car in a Paris suburb. He was picked up early the next morning and driven back to Brussels by two accomplices who are now in custody.

Officials stopped the car at the border and questioned the men, but let them go. Abdeslam disappeared once he reached Brussels.
The lawyer for one of the accomplices said Abdeslam was wearing “a big jacket, maybe a bomb belt” and behaved nervously, making authorities suspect he had backed out of his murderous assignment in Paris.

Meanwhile, a Moroccan-born Belgian who may have scouted the Paris targets was arrested in Turkey as he tried to flee to Syria, authorities said. Ahmad Dahmani, 26, was collared Saturday with two other suspects.

Investigators tracing the jihadist networks that inspired the terrorists said Abdelhamid Abaaoud, the Paris ringleader who was killed in a police raid last week, is connected to the group Sharia4Belgium, known to have sent at least 50 Belgians to join ISIS forces in Syria. 

November 18, 2015

There are Two Terrorists on the Run Not One


 Police now believe not one but two suspects in the Paris attacks may be on the run, as it emerged that Salah Abdeslam was stopped by police three times before he was able to disappear. 
Several eyewitnesses have reported seeing three men inside a black Seat Leon used by the terrorists during gun attacks on bars and restaurants. The only two occupants who have been accounted for are Abdeslam and his brother Ibrahim, who blew himself up outside a café. 
Abdeslam became Europe's most wanted man after he slipped out of Paris and was driven back to Belgium by two other men, who have now been arrested. 
The two alleged getaway drivers, who are being held on suspicion of making the suicide bombs used in the attacks, have disclosed that they were stopped three times by police on their way back to Belgium, but were allowed to carry on each time. 
Hamza Attou, 21, and Mohammed Amri, 27, have reportedly confessed to driving Salah Abdeslam back to Belgium after the attacks. 
A car is towed during a police raid in Brussels' Molenbeek districtA car is towed during a police raid in Brussels' Molenbeek district  Photo: Getty Images
Police found ammonium nitrate – a fertilizer that can be used to make bombs - and ammunition of the type used in Kalashnikov assault rifles in addresses connected to the men. They insist the chemicals were bought as garden fertilizer. 
As the hunt for Salah Abdeslam continued, his brother Mohammed said: “I call on him to turn himself over to the police. The best would be for him to give himself up so that justice can shed all the light on this." 
It was Attou and Amri who were allegedly in a VW Golf with Abdeslam when it was stopped by police at Cambrai, near France’s border with Belgium, on Saturday morning, before being allowed to go on their way because none were at that stage on wanted lists. 
They have now told police in Belgium they were stopped two further times, but again were allowed to continue, enabling Abdeslam to make his escape. 
Attou and Amri were among seven men arrested in Belgium over the weekend, five of whom were later released without charge. 
Police continue to raid addresses in Belgium as they investigate the Paris attacks  Photo: ReutersPolice continue to raid addresses in Belgium as they investigate the Paris attacks
Belgian newspapers suggested they have been charged with 129 “terrorist assassinations” and participation in terrorist activities, though the prosecutor’s office would not confirm this. A total of 129 people died in the co-ordinated attacks on Paris. 
Amri reportedly has a 2009 conviction for assault and is married to a Belgian woman called Kim who converted to Islam to marry him. 
The two men left the Brussels suburb of Molenbeek at 2am on Saturday after receiving a call from Abdeslam, who said his car had broken down. They picked him up in Barbes, about a mile from the Bataclan concert hall, at 5am and drove him back to Molenbeek. 
They deny any knowledge of the massacre, and say Abdeslam said little during the car journey. 
“We did not talk much…he was a little stressed,” they are reported as saying.  
Amri was the driver of the Golf, according to the Belgian newspaper La Libre, but the vehicle belongs to Attou. 
Amri’s solicitor, Xavier Carrette, said the only thing he admits “is having been in France to pick up a friend”. 
They were reportedly not the first people approached by Abdeslam for a lift. 
Reuters reported that another acquaintance of the Abdeslam brothers, 23-year-old Amir, who works installing shop tills, said a friend had called him on Friday night asking him to drive the 180 miles to Paris to pick up Salah Abdeslam. Amir told him he could not go. 
He was told Abdeslam offered to pay for the fuel, but Amir did not want to run up such big mileage on his leased car. "It's incredible," he said of the arrests of the two men who did drive Abdeslam. "It could have been me. ... I had no idea.”
By Henry Samuel in Paris 
and Matthew Holehouse in Brussels

November 14, 2015

Terror in Paris


The night was chilly but thick with excitement as the big match between France’s national soccer team and archrival Germany was underway at the national stadium in a northern suburb of Paris. President François Hollande watched with the crowd as the French players pushed the ball across midfield.

Then came the sharp, unmistakable crack of an explosion, overwhelming the roar of the crowd. A stunned moment passed. Players and spectators seemed confused, and eventually the awful realization swept through the stadium: Terror, for the second time this year, had struck Paris.
The symmetry could not be more jarring. A Parisian year that began with the bloodshed and chaos of the terrorist attacks at the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and later at a Jewish grocery now had an even deadlier coda: With events still fluid and exact details unclear, the authorities said more than 100 people had been killed in a series of attacks across Paris. And dozens of people were taken hostage at a Parisian theater.

A blanket was placed over a body outside the Bataclan theater in Paris on Friday. A rock concert there became the scene of a hostage-taking. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press
The urgent, bleating screech of sirens filled the evening air as police cruisers raced through the streets, uncertain if more mayhem was to come. Taxis ferried people home without charge as the police advised residents to stay inside. Ambulances screamed down the boulevards, as a stunned and confused French capital was again left to wonder: Why us? Once again?

“Paris has been hit again by terror tonight,” Deputy Mayor Patrick Klugman said on Twitter.

For three days in January, Paris was gripped with fear as the police searched for Chérif and Saïd Kouachi after the two brothers attacked the Charlie Hebdo offices, a manhunt that ended with the Kouachis dying in a shootout. The terror only deepened when a third terrorist, Amedy Coulibaly, attacked a Jewish grocery, killing customers, before the police stormed the building and killed him.

Those attacks left France reeling for months, dredging up sadness and fury and horror. They also stirred a national debate over freedom of expression and the state of French Islam, a topic that has divided France like few others and seems certain to intensify now.

The attackers’ names, or whether they are linked to radical Islamist groups, are not yet known. But some witnesses described militants shouting “God is great” in Arabic before opening fire. 

France was already in a foul temper, with the economy stagnant and far-right politicians stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, especially Marine Le Pen, the leader of the National Front. Ms. Le Pen has mocked Mr. Hollande as weak and stirred French nationalism by vowing to close borders. With regional elections scheduled for Dec. 16, Ms. Le Pen seems certain to keep rising in the polls.

“Of course Le Pen is going to capitalize on this,” said Laurence Bagot, 45, a French entrepreneur. “She has already been using rhetoric like closing borders and increasing national security. Now that’s actually happening.”

The French authorities, sharply criticized for failing to monitor the homegrown jihadists who had been known to security officials, vowed to tighten scrutiny of suspected terror cells and protect the country. Ms. Bagot said the attacks seemed to occur after French security was lowered months after the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

“It feels like we’ve created a monster, where the terrorists know better than our own security forces how to maneuver,” she said. “These people are agile, young, have no morals and no limits.”

On Friday night, the usual Parisian reverie was replaced by chaos.

At the Stade de France, spectators described a sense of panic as the explosions shook the stadium and quickly undermined whatever confidence had returned in the months since the attack on the magazine.

“Of course I’m afraid for the future,” said Tony Vandelle, 31, who attended the France-Germany match with his brother. “With all the strikes in Syria, we’re not safe anymore.”

“Already France was traumatized when Charlie Hebdo happened, including our children, who still talk about it at school,” he added. “This is taking things to another level. To see something like this again so soon is frightening for the future.”

Karim Laruelle and his brother, Smaen, described hearing three explosions. “It sounded like firecrackers,” Karim Laruelle said. “We did not really know what was happening until we started getting texts from our families telling us the shootings had happened elsewhere in Paris.

“They wanted to know if we were safe.” 

It was a question that resonated in every corner of the city. At the junction of Folie-Méricourt and Oberkampf, roughly 150 yards from the Bataclan theater, where a rock concert had become a hostage scene, the sound of shooting echoed from the direction of the theater: single shots followed by automatic fire and a series of loud bangs.

Besides the assaults at the Bataclan and the stadium, the attackers chose several of Paris’s busiest night life streets and intersections, including the Boulevard Voltaire, the Boulevard Beaumarchais and the Rue de Charonne.

A man calling himself Leo, who lives near the Rue de Charonne, told Europe 1, a radio network, that his wife was among the first to help victims near the Petit Cambodge restaurant — describing the scene as a “massacre” and “apocalyptic.”

His wife told him that bodies were “littered on the ground.”

At the Bataclan, a reporter named Julien Pearce told Europe 1 that two men entered the theater with guns blazing.

“The men shot at the audience, which lasted for about 10 minutes, with one shot lasting three or four seconds,” he said. “They shot, recharged their guns, and shot again, even aiming at those already lying on the ground. I saw about 10 bodies lying on the ground, but couldn’t tell whether they were injured or dead.”

The day had begun with ominous warnings: bomb threats at the German soccer team’s hotel and at Gare de Lyon, one of the city’s train stations. Trains coming into the station were halted or rerouted as officers combed the building for explosives. The hotel was also searched. Time passed.

Then the police reopened the station. It was a bomb scare. They happen fairly often in Paris. The city resumed its rhythms, unaware of what was to come.

Liz Alderman reported from Paris, and Jim Yardley from Rome. Andrew Higgins and Adam Nossiter contributed reporting from Paris, and Kimiko De Freytas-Tamura from London.

New York Times

October 9, 2013

Paris Wins The Gay Games!!

Paris to host 2018 Gay Games

Paris won the right to host the 2018 Gay Games on Monday, seeing off rivals London and the Irish city of Limerick for the honour of hosting what started out in 1982 as the Gay Olympics.

( By FRANCE 24 )

Paris on Monday won the right to host the 2018 Gay Games, seeing off rivals London and the Irish city of Limerick for the honour of hosting what started out in 1982 as the Gay Olympics.
The 2014 games, both a sporting and cultural event, will take place in Cleveland and Akron in the United States.
The Gay Games – which take place every four years – see more than 10,000 participants take part.
The event retains similarities to the Olympic Games, although it had to change its name before the inaugural event in 1982 after legal objections by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) over name rights.
Its organisers insist the games are open to all, regardless of sexual orientation, religion or nationality, and include up to 36 sporting disciplines.
Welcoming the nomination, the city authorities said in a statement that Paris was “an open city that respects the universal values of openness, sharing and freedom”.

October 5, 2013

Rainbow Eiffel Tower Angers Gay Marriage Homophobes But Brings Romantic and Unity Thoughts to Other

 For anyone to have enough time in their life to criticize such a thing in the media means those need more things to do. They are finding fault when we are representing beauty. humanity and human rights of gays loving each other. It if was ugly or it made the EIffel Tower to fall down then is a different story. But to take something like the Empire State in NY or The iconic Eiffel tower in lovely Paris, which the best way to describe it is to go there like I have and you’ll see what beautiful minds can do out of steel.
Rainbow Eiffel Tower angers gay marriage critics
© Twitter user @emilielopez                                      Adam Gonzalez for

There you see the two by side. Where is the criticism? 

Lighting up the Eiffel Tower in rainbow colours as part of Bastille Day celebrations on Sunday angered and delighted anti and pro-gay rights campaigners alike, although authorities said the display was actually a tribute to Nelson Mandela.

Bastille Day celebrations ended in Paris on Sunday night with a spectacular fireworks display at the Eiffel Tower. As the first sparklers brightened the sky, the iconic tower lit up in the colours of the rainbow. The display both delighted and shocked many, who interpreted it as a nod to France’srecent legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption.
As the show got underway, spectators at the foot of the Eiffel Tower could hear speakers blasting out a man’s voice saying: “All living beings – man, woman and child – walk in the same vein: equality,” as music played in the background.
“Every human being is a shade of this rainbow palette,” another voice over continued. “For every human, the same opportunities.”
The message of hope and equality had many wondering if there was a political subtext. Was the rainbow-coloured Eiffel Tower meant to mirror the emblematic rainbow flag? Was the voiceover at the beginning of the show meant to closely echo the pro-gay marriage slogan, Marriage for everyone (“Mariage pour tous”)?

The question immediately lit up social networking websites. While Twitter user @bloglaurel exclaimed that “The Eiffel Tower in Marriage for everyone colours is a beautiful symbol!” @PercevaldeB scorned what he viewed as a “Free provocation of the LGBT lobby!!!” and called for French President François Hollande’s resignation.
France’s legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption left the country deeply divided along political and social lines. In the months leading up to the law’s approval, Paris was the scene of massive protests both for and against the measure.
Paris’s city hall, however, has shot down speculation the rainbow-coloured Eiffel Tower was a tribute to gay rights, according to LGBT website Yagg. Instead, city officials said the display was meant to be a tribute to South Africa’s ailing former leader and anti-apartheid activist, Nelson Mandela.

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