Tears at the tills as Paris store reopens


Burned-out candles and dead flowers still litter the streets at Porte de Vincennes, ongoing signs of the death and destruction that hit this unremarkable Paris neighbourhood two months ago.

But beyond the barriers and leftover memorials, a resilient business has come back to life. Kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher had been closed since Islamist terrorist Amedy Coulibaly murdered four Jews and took 15 people hostage there on January 9.

The store opened its doors last Sunday to a queue of customers defiantly resolved to carry on with day-to-day life and to show their support for the shop's staff.

Inside, a full renovation hides any sign of the horrors that took place. Staff were busy stacking shelves and serving at tills as usual, saying they had "done enough talking - we need to do our work now".

The pain felt after the murders of François-Michel Saada, Philippe Braham, Yoav Hattab and Yohan Cohen remains raw, however.

One regular customer, Lynda, said: "This is the first time I'm back here. It's very moving, there are tears in my eyes. I'm proud that they reopened. We're keeping on going, we're not afraid.

"It's very important for me to come back and do my shopping here. I live nearby and I missed it enormously while it was closed. I knew young Yohan very well. He used to serve me, he was pleasant."

Inside the store it appears to be business as usual, but the continued presence of police outside is a constant reminder of the ongoing security situation for Paris's Jewish community.

Mother-of-two Elsa, 35, lives nearby. She was only an occasional shopper at Hyper Cacher but made a point of filling a trolley full of food on Sunday.

"On one hand you remember everything that happened not so long ago, and it's very moving," she said.

"It's sad, there's this emotion, it's very significant. At the same time, there's hope - it's a great strength to be able to come back.

"There's a lot of security here and the police, and I feel even safer than before. Life goes on."

She said French Jews were questioning their future in the country and felt the threat remained "real".

"It's going to explode again. I'm very pessimistic. I think there are going to be new attacks. There's still a high level of security, there are still soldiers everywhere.

"It's sad that things have come to this - that there's a need for so much surveillance."

Elsa's final point is on the minds of many of her fellow shoppers. "When the soldiers are no longer here, what's going to happen? When I go shopping, I look around, I watch who comes into the shop. I'm always vigilant.

"It won't change anything, but I'm always thinking, in the back of my mind, that anything could happen, anywhere."

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