On Sunday morning at the Place de la Republique, two days after a series of >coordinated bomb attacks killed over 120 people in Paris, a large crowd of Parisians mill around the famous statue of Marianne, the embodiment of French republicanism.
The diverse gathering, which includes people of all ages and colours, is silent and grave as people pay tribute to those who died in the attacks at a hastily created memorial at the base of the statue.
Parisians are on the streets in a show of defiance and national resilience on a day of national mourning. The response to the attacks have been remarkably sober and mature, and certainly nothing close to what the perpetrators of the crimes would have hoped for. There has been no overt anti-Muslim backlash in the public sphere, whether on the streets or in the media, and but for the far-right of the political spectrum, political parties have called for restraint and unity.
Read: >All you need to know about the Paris attacks
The French police have identified one of the seven attackers as a 29-year-old Frenchman of Algerian origin from the suburbs of Paris with a criminal record and who had travelled to Syria in 2013 and 2014.
Six of his relatives have been detained. He was one of the attackers at the Bataclan, where the worst carnage took place leaving 89 people, including several in wheelchairs, dead.
It is now known that 129 people died, with the numbers of injured now 352, of whom 99 are in a critical condition. Those who died were mainly the young enjoying the start of the weekend.
“The dead are mostly the young, and they died for nothing,” said Christopher Fernando, a mourner at the Place de la Republique.
Two of the cars used by the suspects have been found. A black Polo VW was found outside the Bataclan, and parking tickets in the car led the police team to the French citizen who is a resident of Belgium and who had hired the car from a highly radicalized suburb of Brussels.
He was arrested on the Franco-Belgian border as he was returning home after the attacks with two others. The police are yet to disclose the identities of these three persons. A cache of AK 47 rifles was found in a second car, a black SEAT sedan, in the suburb of Montreuil.
Terrorists wanted to divide France
The intent of the coordinated terror attacks in Paris on Friday night was clearly to deepen religious and political divisions within France, the media quoted prosecutors as saying.
One of the dead terrorists had carefully placed a Syrian passport in his pocket in an obvious attempt to drive popular hostility against Syrian refugees who have been entering Europe, fleeing from the civil unrest in Syria.
The attacks are believed to have been launched in retaliation for French military involvement in Syria and Iraq.
The media quoted officials as saying that the well-coordinated attacks were planned and executed by a cross-country team with links to Syria and West Asia, Belgium, Germany and France.
“We must now see what measures President Hollande puts in place,” said Aurelien Mondon, an expert on French politics from the University of Bath.
“Terrorism seeks to divide and unfortunately these attacks will create fertile soil for that. The media and French politicians must be very careful not to target sections who are already discriminated against.”