As we crossed the Pont d’lena bridge on the northwest side of the Eiffel Tower, we heard a loud jingling noise. Was it Christmas?
The noise grew. Young men with Middle-Eastern complexions were racing around us in what looked like the start of a riot. Oh good. Something to write home about.
It was actually Dave the Alert who noticed that only dark-skinned men were running, their rings of souvenirs filling the air with their musical jingling. It was a very contrary scene. On the one hand, we felt the pressure of herd-behavior and wanted to run. On the other, the jingling made me reach for my wallet and look around for a Salvation Army kettle.
I did not notice the runners’ ethnicity right away, but I was cognizant of the fact that France’s controversial new prohibitions on face-concealing burqas had just come into effect.
Yes, I’m writing it just like that. It’s politically incorrect to notice anyone’s race/ethnic-origin these days, but as a retired reporter, I just say it like it is, and it is like this: Recent ethnic-group-targeted-law + Middle-Eastern males in flight = Get the Heck Out of There.
I could take the oblique route and say no blond middle-aged women were seen fleeing the scene, but that’s only because I (blond middle-aged woman) have 1. a bad Achilles tendon, and 2. am too dense to realize when something is happening, even if something is Middle-Eastern males running at high speeds through a city famous for Muslim-youth riots only a few years ago.
Within seconds, we found ourselves standing alone on a broad swath of pavement that moments earlier had been packed with people. This could not be good, and then we saw the reason for the running. His strut drew attention even from across the street – a Paris police officer. We quickly ascertained that those fleeing from him were unlicensed vendors, and maybe even illegal aliens. Who knows?
The police made no attempt to chase down the vendors, who actually raced through a line of armed soldiers, who also made no move to apprehend. It was clear this was just business as usual, although for the remainder of the time we were at the Eiffel Tower, the vendors kept a watchful and anxious eye out on the crowds.
Sadly, the police officer and soldiers refused my request to take their photo. I did not argue. This will surprise police officers in Victoria who know me, but it may have been because of the assault rifles and Glocks in full view, and the fact that I was a guest in a foreign country, and so on my best behavior.
Tomorrow: Thieves in Paris – cute, adorable, efficient.