France

Article excerpt

Paris

Following the first attack at 3 am French time, the morning papers were ready with generic "War Is Here" headlines, accompanied by full-page images of dark skies. During the day, France was reminded in the media by President Chirac that peaceful disarmament could have been accomplished, and that "whatever the duration of the war, the long-term consequences will be heavy," while Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin insisted that the situation in Israel and Palestine represented a greater threat to Middle East peace than Iraq did, one that needed to be resolved with assured security for Israel and justice for the Palestinians.

Students of my son's lycee went through with their planned walkouts, joining with students from across Paris. At a company where I tutor a sales executive in English, it was clear when I arrived that the receptionist had been crying. "I know what it's like to be bombed," she said, referring to her experience in Belgrade. "I can't believe they continue this insanity." My student said she was unable to concentrate on selling handbags. "I don't know a single person who believes in this war," she added.

Outside, heavy police guards were protecting the US Embassy and barricaded consulate, normally heavy traffic was halted within a 500-meter radius and an eerie silence hung over usually congested streets. Traditionally off-limits to demonstrations because of its proximity to the US Embassy, the immense Place de la Concorde began filling up with 100,000 protesters by 6:30 pm. …