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Obama, Hollande Speak On Response To ISIS Attacks


Let's drill down on one fact that we have learned about the people who attacked Paris on Friday. Sources tell NPR's Dina Temple-Raston, that one of the men was identified as a Syrian. Identified by a passport along with a fingerprint, the man had been identified at one point in his journey to France as a migrant. And that is sure to intensify the discussion about accepting Syrian refugees in Western countries, including refugees to the United States. President Obama has addressed that in a news conference within the last hour. And let's give a listen to some of what the president said referring to refugees.


BARACK OBAMA: And that's why even as we accept more refugees, including Syrians, we do so only after subjecting them to rigorous screening and security checks. We also have to remember that many of these refugees are the victims of terrorism themselves. That's what they're fleeing. Slamming the door in their faces would be a betrayal of our values.

INSKEEP: That's how President Obama put it at a summit earlier today in Turkey, just a short time ago. Our White House correspondent Scott Horsley is still with us. And Scott, is that a unanimous opinion in the United States?

SCOTT HORSLEY, BYLINE: No. We've already been hearing from some Republican governors around the country raising concerns about Syrian refugees who might be located in their states. And you heard the president himself saying we would only do so after rigorous screening. There have been questions raised about whether there is the resources, the manpower in this country to do the kind of screening the president's talking about. Even before the Paris attacks, the refugee crisis was on the agenda for the G-20. It was the subject of a working meeting that President Obama and his fellow G-20 leaders had last night in Turkey. And you heard the president also say today that Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon can't do this alone. For all the attention on Syrian refugees who've shown up in Europe, we have to remember that Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon have borne the lion's share of that flow out of Syria. And the president says, so far, there's been less than half the support delivered to those countries that other countries around the world have promised.

INSKEEP: And of course, if the president is going to keep that refugee flow open - or it's been very limited to the United States - expand it ever so slightly, he will be doing that in a context of a presidential campaign in which his side has a definite interest.

HORSLEY: Yes, and you heard him say that to slam the door would be a betrayal of our values. And of course, there's the value of hospitality and also the value of security. And we're going to see those dueling values in that campaign.

INSKEEP: OK, Scott. Thanks very much. That's our White House correspondent Scott Horsley speaking after President Obama began a news conference earlier today in Turkey. And we now go to Paris, where the President of France, Francois Hollande, spoke today. And we're going to listen to a little bit of that and then talk about that with NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. First, let's listen to Francois Hollande.


FRANCOIS HOLLANDE: (Through interpreter) France is at war. The acts permitted on Friday evening in Paris near the Stade de France were acts of war. At least 129 people were killed, and many people were injured. It represents an attack, an aggression against our country, against its values, against its youth and against its way of life.

INSKEEP: That's French President Francois Hollande defining what he sees as the threat to his country and the nature of the attack that Paris experienced on Friday. Our colleague Eleanor Beardsley has been listening in to the President of France from Paris, and she's on the line. Eleanor, what did the - what did Hollande add to that?

ELEANOR BEARDSLEY, BYLINE: Hi, Steve. Yeah. Well, he really - he did talk about the youth because he said that most of the victims were under 30 years of age. And they were out enjoying their lives in entertainment and sport. And so it really is an attack on the way of life here. But he said the French democracy has survived worse and would survive. The French would remain strong. And he said it was absolutely not a war of civilizations because they don't represent one.

INSKEEP: You know, it's troubling to hear you say that, Eleanor Beardsley. We have heard that the attacks, many of them were in a section of Paris that is favored by young, progressive people, out and about living their lives. Restaurants were attacked. But we're also getting names and ages of some of the attackers. Here's one who's 29 years old, another who's 28, another who is believed to be 31, another who is 20. You have young people killing young people here.

BEARDSLEY: You do, Steve. And, you know, what's - analysts here are saying it's like a parallel universe. The people who attack have somehow been lost along the way, shut out, never been able to make their way in society because the people who were killed, it wasn't one demographic. There were all religions, all colors. And so it was really a mix. And it doesn't make sense. And many critics now are saying it's the way society is. We need to include. There needs to be more inclusion because these people have just been separated, and they've turned the wrong way and been radicalized.

INSKEEP: What are people saying now about the guarding of French borders as well as the policing of a society that includes ever more diversity?

BEARDSLEY: Right. Well, actually the government - the socialist government does want to - the EU to put border controls back inside. You know, once you're in the EU, you can move around freely.


BEARDSLEY: And the socialist government here wants people to start checking. It's a worry because people live here free. And they're not used to being checked, and there's not much violence. And it's a new way of life that's going to open up here many fear. But at the same time, people aren't safe. They don't feel safe. People on the streets are very jittery today. The slightest noise - if a car would backfire, people would be very scared. I was in a crowd yesterday that began to panic, and almost in a stampede, because someone heard noises. So people know they need protection, but it's a violation of this freedom, the liberty that people are used to living in, so it's -

INSKEEP: We heard Scott Horsley, just a moment ago, talk about the political divide in the United States over Syrian refugees specifically, even though there have not been very many refugees coming to the United States or allowed into the United States. What is the political divide, if any, in France over this?

BEARDSLEY: Well, the far right will definitely try to exploit this, but Hollande said a couple weeks ago that France really doesn't have very many refugees compared to Germany. It is a concern, and, you know, but - if you speak with analysts who know this - yes, it's not the refugees themselves that could be radicals. But yes, of course, the extremists could slip someone in amongst them. So it is a possibility, and people are aware of that. And it's making the migrant issue even more complicated.

INSKEEP: One other thing - we've just got about 15 or 20 seconds, Eleanor Beardsley. President Obama spoke about the strategy against ISIS. He said it's working, in spite of this setback. Does President Francois Hollande, based on what you've heard, appear to agree?

BEARDSLEY: Yes, I believe so because France and the U.S. - well, France did its most major attack on ISIS last night, destroying many sites, command centers and training bases. And that was in coordination with the U.S. So I think they think that it's doing something, yes.

INSKEEP: OK, Eleanor. Thanks very much, as always, for your reporting.

BEARDSLEY: Great, Steve. Good to be with you.

INSKEEP: That's NPR's Eleanor Beardsley. She is in Paris where Francois Hollande, the president, has spoken today describing, again, the attacks on Paris as an act of war. We've also heard from President Obama in this hour saying the strategy against ISIS is working. It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Scott Horsley is NPR's Chief Economics Correspondent. He reports on ups and downs in the national economy as well as fault lines between booming and busting communities.