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    French gendarmes patrol in front of the Eiffel Tower one day before New Year's eve festivities in Paris on December 30, 2016

    France to Build Bulletproof Glass Wall Near Eiffel Tower

    © AFP 2019 / MIGUEL MEDINA
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    The mayor of Paris has announced the erection of a 2.5 meter wall of bulletproof glass around the Eiffel Tower. The new security measure is meant to protect France’s most recognizable symbol in the event of a terrorist threat.

    According to French daily newspaper Le Parisien, mayor Anne Hidalgo submitted a €300 million ($318 million) plan to modernize the Eiffel Tower over the next 15 years. Among the tenets of the plan is the permanent implementation of transparent security fences, a €20 million measure.

    Several factors went into the decision, the most obvious being security. Temporary metal fences were put up in June 2016 for the Euro 2016 football tournament, partially in response to a November 2015 Daesh-sponsored terrorist attack that left 137 Parisians dead and 368 injured. 

    On Friday, February 3, a machete-wielding Egyptian man shouted "Allahu Akbar" while attacking a French soldier at the Louvre. Over 230 French citizens have been killed by Islamic terrorists in the last two years.

    In addition, Paris is trying to shore up its bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics. France has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1924 games in Paris, although the 1992 and 1968 Winter Games were held in Albertville and Grenoble, respectively. Budapest and Los Angeles are the other two cities bidding to host the games.

    Paris also wishes to be the site of the 2025 World Expo. The world fair is of special significance to Paris, as it was during the 1889 Exposition Universelle that the Eiffel Tower was opened to the public for the first time. Paris has not hosted a world's fair since 1947.

    The third reason is a general need to repair and modernize the world's most visited monument. Foot traffic will be reorganized, elevators will be replaced, lights will be refurbished, and the entire tower will be subject to extensive stripping and painting.

    But the security measures have attracted the most controversy. Even those who do not wish to visit the tower will have to pass through checkpoints on their way through.

    "What a shame. While I can understand the security aspect, this new plan is going to spoil the area a bit," a 37-year-old Parisian named Sarah told Le Parisien. "The best way to enjoy the tower is to see it from underneath. It will be annoying if you can't get there easily, especially for people who have travelled from abroad."

    Deputy mayor of sports and tourism Jean-Francois Martins says the measure is necessary. "The terror threat remains high in Paris and the most vulnerable sites, led by the Eiffel Tower, must be the object of special security measures," he said in a statement. 

    An estimated 6-million people visit the Eiffel Tower every year, and it is globally recognized as a symbol of France, and Paris. However, it is for this reason that French authorities fear it may be the target of a terrorist attack. In addition to the machete attack at the Louvre, in September 2016 an attempt by a quartet of female Daesh sympathizers to bomb the Notre Dame Cathedral was thwarted by French authorities.

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    Tags:
    security, terrorism, Eiffel Tower, Anne Hidalgo, Paris, France
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