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A year after the Paris attacks, French Muslims want the world to know their story

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WATCH  | French Muslims share the struggles they confront a year after radical terrorists launched pre-planned attacks on Paris.

Like the history of the Grand Mosque in Paris, which few people know, French Muslims struggle to tell their story and find their place alongside their countrymen more than a year after the gruesome terror attacks that imprisoned the nation in fear.

In some ways it still does. 

On Nov. 13, 2015, ISIS massacred 130 people and left hundreds more wounded after targeting the Bataclan Restaurant and numerous cafes throughout the city.  Shortly after, during the French celebration of Bastille Day, a truck driver plowed through a crowd on the boardwalk in Nice, France, killing 86 people, including children. It was the third massive attack in France in a period of 18 months. 


Since the attacks, the nation has been under a state of emergency that was enacted under French President Francois Hollande. For French Muslims, it has been difficult. The law allows authorities a wide scope to target suspected terrorists with relatively little oversight, according to French news reports.  


The attacks were not just devastating on a national level for many of the nation's Muslims but it also made them targets of the anger and frustration of their own countrymen.

And the Grand Mosque, where Mohammed, a young political science student has prayed, is a reflection of France's appreciation for the sacrifices made by French Muslims. More than 100,000 Muslim soldiers fought alongside France against the Germans in World War I. 


And during World War II, during the occupation of Germany, the mosque was used as a secret refuge for Algerian and European Jews, who were given fake birth certificates saying they were Muslim to protect them from the Germans. 


Many French citizen's say they live with the hidden fear that another attack is just around the corner and it's the same fear felt by Muslim citizens of France.

“If it can happen in Paris, it can happen anywhere, we live with it now,” said Obertelli Luigi, a Parisian who recalls scrambling to pick up his 19-year-old son from his work at a restaurant in Paris the night of the Nov. 13, attacks. "It's something we think will happen at any moment. It's hard on everyone." 

Sean Eloi, 21, who remembers being at a restaurant the night of the attacks with some college friends. He remembered being barricaded in the café until the shooting stopped. Eloi said the terrorists "will not defeat France because we will find a way to overcome, Muslims and everyone alike." 


“I think young and older people need to go out and make a normal life, just because there are these terrorists we can’t stop living, going out and (having) fun,” he said.

You can follow Sara A. Carter on Twitter @SaraCarterDC

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