In front of this past year’s deadly events, France stood strong and united. The country insisted on re-enforcing security measures instead of giving in to the fear of having lives, landmarks and hopes taken away, but sometimes this just isn’t enough. The northern city of Lille, home to Europe’s biggest flea market each September saw its annual event cancelled for the first time since the Second World War over the numerous threats of terrorist attacks. Martine Aubry, Socialist mayor took the gut-wrenching decision deterring the arrival of 2.5 million of visitors usually attending the ‘Grande Braderie’ from all over France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the UK.
The choice has upset an entire population not only for economic reasons but for ‘patriotic’ ones too. France has always been proud to have its people stick together, and cancelling a familial and all-round positive and friendly gathering dating back to the twelfth century has quickly been described as not only a shame but an outrage. Because realistically (and unfortunately) a bomb could explode any day in any busy location so such a cancellation is seen as an entire country kow towing to ISIS and giving them exactly what they want: a metropolis living in fear and constant worry.
The characteristic of the event, massive crowds in narrow streets, would indeed be leading to maximum exposure and non-adequate protection considering the event not being set in one particular venue but on 100 kilometers of streets with over 10,000 sellers. The risks are high, and so what? If no fingers should ever be pointed at the local government for trying to minimise the chances of another deadly attack to happen, fear shouldn’t be getting in the way of local celebrations either.
Inhabitants of Lille and around feel they should be given the freedom to go if they want to, at their own risks, while the government could have narrowed down the event’s perimeter allowing a maybe intrusive but necessary police and army presence.
Nothing a good party can’t fix
This still would turn out incredibly risky but at that point, any medium-sized event in any city could be targeted. Should youngsters stop going to major state universities? Should any kind of major gathering, created to bring happiness and joy, be forgotten about? After two weeks of frustration and anger, the locals decided to protest in their own way and plan what is likely to be an incredible party week-end after all.
The Lillois do not fear and proudly flaunt their bravery. Once again, Facebook and other social networks have been used for the creation of major public events encouraging locals to come out of their shells and gather in Lille’s city center and old quarter in order to eat the traditional dish of mussels and fries (500 tons of mussels being wolfed down each year), have one too many pints and bring out the spirit that popularised the event over the centuries. Many party-lovers from hip destinations such as Paris or Brussels have joined several online events and are expected to come and prove that the Islamic State does not hold any power on a country that has suffered and suffered over the past years.