Young people in Paris talk about their lives and feelings in the aftermath of the brutal attacks November 13.
CNN  — 

The Paris terror attacks left 130 people dead and hundreds more wounded. Many of the victims were young people out enjoying a typical Friday night.

“It was the youth of France who were targeted simply because they represent life,” French President Francois Hollande said in the days after the massacres.

In the wake of the tragedy, photographer Sebastian Collett took portraits of young people across Paris coming to terms with the impact of the assault on their city.


Lydia Mohamed, 20, and Traore Hatouma, 19

Traore Hatouma, right, said she has a friend who lost a loved one at the Stade de France, one of the attack sites. One of her professors was also there.

“He was so traumatized that he had to cancel classes for a week,” she said. “This situation has really touched me. It makes me want to bring everyone together, regardless of difference of skin color, religion, etc.”

Lydia Mohamed emphasized the importance of not generalizing about Muslims. “The terrorists don’t represent the views of most Muslims,” she said.


Quentin Allibert, 18

In the aftermath of the worst violence France has seen since World War II, Quentin Allibert said he hopes the country finds ways to be secure without creating a culture of fear.

“France is strong, and no threat will change that,” he said. “I hope the world will learn a lesson from these tragedies, as it did from the World Wars.”


Jihene Oueslati, 22

“To maintain hope during this time we must continue to dream, and have goals in life,” said architecture student Jihene Oueslati.

“Without our dreams the world will become sad, and without goals life won’t have any meaning, and there will be nothing left but fear and despair. We must keep doing what we love. For my part, every time I feel sad, I will sing to feel happy again.”


Salim Akan, 22

“I identify as Muslim. I think it’s the most beautiful religion,” said bartender Salim Akan, who grew up in France and Holland.

“I’m Muslim in my own way. … (But) for Muslim countries France is a considered a country of perversion.”


Marine Hevin, 21

Marine Hevin was born in Paris and doesn’t plan on ever living anywhere else.

“To be young in Paris is extraordinary,” she said. “I really think that Paris is the best city to be a student or even to live your entire life. Drinking red wine, have a good time on a terrace. To be young in Paris is to be free, to do whatever you want to do, to live in an amazing cultural atmosphere.”

“I really think we’ve got to keep hope and continue to live our lives as normal as possible. Otherwise (the terrorists) would have won, because that’s what they want: changing what we are and what make Paris the city of love and the background of Hemingway’s “Moveable Feast.” Culture should be our main weapon because that’s what built our vision of life and that’s what France is defending more than any country. I’ll keep going out, drinking red wine, listening to music and enjoying life because – I think that everyone realized it – life is so short.”


Vivien Canadas, 21

Communications student Vivien Canadas was at home during the attacks, about to go out. “Then Paris fell into another reality.”

“Time stopped; we were all focused on the events,” he said. “It was a big shock. We all realized we could have been the victims.”


Laura Horrocks, 23

“For me, witnessing the reaction and the courage of the French people has been very uplifting and inspiring,” said Australian artist Laura Horrock, who has been living in Paris for six months.

“I just want to stay here and keep making art.”


Yasmine Harrison, 21

Yasmine Harrison is an Algerian-American studying political sociology in Paris.

“I was very shocked by the inhumanity of the attacks and heartbroken for the humanity that was lost,” she said.

“Before the attacks and the state of emergency, police brutality and racial and religious profiling were already a reality for many of my fellow citizens. … It feels a lot like a French version of the Patriot Act is in the making, and we have no control over it.”


Khalil Habrih, 20

“Like everyone, this period is one of fear for me,” Khalil Habrih said. “There have been literal explosions of violence. The immediate reaction of the French government and most of the public has been excessive war-mongering.”

He worries about the growing anti-Muslim sentiment. “We need to take a step back and account for all the lives that are at stake in this crisis.”


Pierre de Mones, 21

“It’s unsettling to know that the heart of Paris is that vulnerable,” design student Pierre de Mones said. The attack sites are in “cool neighborhoods that are known to be filled with very diverse people. I think it makes one aware that France and Paris are not a protected bubble.”

“Violence should be condemned everywhere. I can only feel compassion for those who have to fear it every day.”


Shu Sun, 22, and Xin Wang, 22

Shu Sun, left, and Xin Wang are both from China and studying at Paris-Sorbonne University. They said the days since the attacks have been hard for them.

“We are very far from home, and our parents are very worried about us,” Wang said. “There should be more surveillance to prevent future attacks. On a personal level we can’t do much; we just take care of ourselves.”


Dan Buchler, 21

Theater student Dan Buchler was in a bar with a friend during the attacks.

“The staff closed the blinds and kept us inside until 4 a.m. as a precaution,” he said. “The evening had two aspects: On the one hand, it brought back the bad memories of Charlie Hebdo. On the other hand, there was a positive side. We were all in this bar together, and they gave everyone free drinks. We all bonded and became really close.”

Buchler said if ISIS wants to divide the French people, “they’re off to a bad start. Why would they think France would give up its culture of pleasure? Its music, food, wine and joy? Paris won’t be divided.”


Maxime Benoist, 21