Syrians In Paris Look For Ways To Help In Their New Home

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As the horrific scale of the two attacks in Paris became increasingly clear on Friday night, Parisians rushed to check in on loved ones and find safe ways to get home.

Among them were Syrians living in Paris, who fled there to escape such horrors back home.

I instantly called my friends, and then remained up checking Facebook and the news until 5 a.m. told Eyad, a 28 -year-old Syrian who took a boat to Greece earlier this year and arrived in France after a long trek through Europe.

One of his Syrian friends was at the Stade de France when suicide bombers detonated outside, but was safely evacuated along with thousands of others watching the France-Germany soccer game.

At least 129 people were killedas seven gunmen went on a rampage around the French capital — detonating blasts by the stadium, shooting patrons at restaurants in central Paris and killing dozens at a stone concert. The Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The horror is all too familiar for Syrians living in France who tried to flee the brutal conflict in their homeland, including the barbarism of the Islamic State and of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

We know about this feeling, when someone attacks you, Eyad told. Weve been there.

He is now scrambling to find ways to help. He is thinking of holding an event at the university where he is learning French and preparing to apply for a scholarship to university to analyse classical art. He designed a Facebook banner urging for Paris Peace.

We care about this city like the French people care about this city.

Over 4 million people have fled Syria since 2011. About 5, 000 of them have come to France as refugees since 2012. After a steep rise in people making the harrowing journey to Europe this year, Paris agreed to take in 24, 000 more refugees in the next two years.

That policy is now under scrutiny, as politicians in France and around the world seize on the discovery by French authorities of a Syrian passport near the body of one of the attackers and the information that its holder passed through Greece last month.

Frances far-right National Front party leader Marine Le Pen said on Saturday the attacks show France must regain control of its borders and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here.” Republican presidential candidates Donald Trump and Ted Cruz said the U.S. should reconsider plans to take in 10,000 Syrian refugees next year. Meanwhile, a Polish official told Europe had a duty to revise its fledgling plans to relocate refugees, and that Poland could not accept any refugees without security guarantees.

People are very sad and theyre not thinking clearly. They are trying to find someone or something to put the situation on their shoulders, Nora, a 23 -year-old analyzing cinema in Paris after fleeing Damascus, Syria, four years ago, told of the refugee backlash.

But most French people arent like that, she tells. Her French friends have already checked that shes OK, and they know well the difference between Syrians and terrorists.

I have no doubt, even if[ an attacker] was from Syria, he doesnt represent Syrians or Syria or anything of our culture, Nora said.

Police have not confirmed the the identity cards of the 7 attackers, but said one was a Frenchman known to authorities for his links to Islamic extremism. Many questions remain about the connection to the Syrian passport recovered at the scene.

Layla, 27, who is from Damascus and came to Paris in the past year to work on a master’s degree in architecture, said the connection appears ridiculous.

None of us walks with our passport, especially someone who wants to bomb themselves, she said.

She is concerned the two attacks could make life difficult for Syrians in Paris, and also back home. She noted Assads remarks Saturday blaming the two attacks on Frances mistaken policies. The Kremlin also confiscated on the two attacks to exhort a unified front against the Islamic State, basically an invitation to team up with Assad.

This will not be good for Syria, she told. The regime is doing horrific things, and Assad says hes protecting the people — it is bullshit.

Syrians in the rebel-held district of Douma posted a note of condolence to the French people on social media after the Friday attacks, and photos indicated a small solidarity vigil in the area. “We hope that we could help each other to make our World safer and more civilized, ” the note read.

The subjects in the narrative asked that only their first names be used in order to protect their families in Syria or their asylum status.

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