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One Year After Paris Attacks, Bataclan Concert Hall Reopens

Nov 13, 2016
Originally published on November 13, 2016 9:06 am
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STING: (Singing) Roxanne, you don't have to put on the red light.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And of course that is Sting performing at the reopening of the Bataclan concert hall in Paris last night. A year ago, terrorists stormed the club during a concert, taking hostages for several hours and killing 90 people. Coordinated attacks that night across the city took the lives of 130 people. A year later, NPR's Eleanor Beardsley returns to the neighborhood where most of the attacks took place.

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Bonjour, Didi.

DIDI: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Didi has come back to work security for Sting's concert at the Bataclan. He was the security guard on duty at the front door a year ago, when three terrorists wearing explosive belts arrived, shooting their way into the club. Didi saved hundreds of lives last November 13 by opening emergency exits and leading people to safety.

He doesn't want to use his last name because he says he's received death threats from Islamist extremists. Didi says he's doing better now. He had a baby daughter this year and was awarded a national medal of honor for his bravery. But he says he doesn't know if he'll ever be able to return to his job.

DIDI: (Through interpreter) I'm waiting for this concert to see if I can do this job again. You can't know until you're in the exact conditions again, there in the dark.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

STING: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Sting began his concert last night with a minute of silence. The media wasn't allowed in, but the audience shared the concert on social media. Ceremonies are being held across Paris today in memory of those who lost their lives in the worst attack on France since World War II.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOOR SHUTTING)

STEPHANE DANTIER: (Speaking French).

BEARDSLEY: Stephane Dantier owns a bistro right across from two outdoor cafes where 14 people were murdered. "I saw the fire coming out of their guns," he says. Dantier says the neighborhood has come back to life. He shows me the plaque that is to be unveiled today. It's still covered in cardboard.

DANTIER: (Through interpreter) We'll never forget, of course. But I don't think this is the right way to remember. The plaque is transforming this gay, festive place into a kind of memorial to death.

MYRIAM: I start again from scratch, basically.

BEARDSLEY: That's 41-year-old Myriam who returned to the Bataclan for Sting's concert. Security guard Didi saved her life a year ago. She doesn't want to give her last name either because she fears for her safety. Myriam says after the Bataclan attack, she could no longer work as a flight attendant.

MYRIAM: I don't feel comfortable in being responsible for safety and security and wearing a uniform in a closed tube (laughter). I don't trust myself if I get scared.

BEARDSLEY: Myriam says she's busy raising her 18-month-old son and has embarked on a new career in the music industry. She says she's learning how to live again and embracing life as never before.

Eleanor Beardsley, NPR News, Paris. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.