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Austin's French community reacts to Paris attacks


Emergency vehicles on a Paris street.
Emergency vehicles on a Paris street.
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As the carnage in Paris unfolded on television and phone screens around the world, Austinite Cecile Fandos watched. "I have family in Paris. They don't live where the attacks were made but they work close to there," she said.

Fandos moved from France to Austin four years ago and she is the president of Francais du Monde South Central USA. "It is sad. But the racist reactions make me as sad," she said.

Hind Louali is also French. "I'm actually half Moroccan, and it's probably an interesting mix for the events of tonight," she said. Louali is the director of a French school in North Austin. She moved from France 13 years ago

"The first reaction is to call people trying to find out if everybody's OK, try to reach everybody," Louali said. But the attacks brought back the Charlie Hebdo attacks nine months ago. "It's also followed by a deep sadness because we feel like we've living the nightmare of January all over again," said Louali.

There is uncertainty as to who is behind today's attacks in Paris. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Charlie Hebdo attack, which prompted Hind and Cecile to increase cultural understanding between French Christians, Muslims and Africans in Austin, in hopes it will bring an end to terrorism. "France has always had a multicultural upbringing everywhere," Louali said.

There is a French-African get together planned for this Sunday -- it was in the works already, prompted by the Charlie Hebdo attacks, but the women expect today's events will make it even more meaningful.

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