DOCUMENT EUROPE 1
Remained silent since the tragedy, he decided to speak a year later. On December 11, 2018, in Strasbourg, Rachid (the first name was changed) took as a passenger in his taxi Chérif Chekatt, the author, a few minutes earlier, the attack on the Christmas Market of the city, in which five people were killed and eleven others injured. At the microphone of Europe 1, he tells the fifteen minutes of anguish, from which he came out safe and sound, but profoundly affected psychologically.
On December 11, 2018, around 19:45, Chérif Chekatt, 29 year old son S, began his murderous enterprise. A few minutes later, trying to flee the police, he climbs into Rachid's taxi. "I see him coming, he closes the door, he says 'take me to Neudorf (a part of the city), hurry up!'", He recalls, describing a "very nervous" man, with whom he exchange a few words in Arabic. "He said to me 'you do not know what I just did, I just bombed Strasbourg, killed ten people, shot soldiers too.'
Learning at that moment the tragedy that occurred a few minutes earlier, Rachid fears for his own life. "In my head, it gets carried away, I pray before I die, because I think it's over for me," he says. Wounded in the arm, the terrorist indeed points his weapon at him.
"I saw myself dying"
All along the way, the driver exchanges with a very aggressive Cherif Chekatt. "He asks me questions, I do not disagree with him, I go in his direction, he is the master on board, who directs everything." But, Rachid does not really listen, describing his brain as "arrested" today, and then trying to "find the right words" and "force because I saw myself die, I waited for the detonation".
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"At one point, he hurt a lot and said: 'You have to help me, I'm bleeding a lot'", says Rachid, who answers "no problem, I'll help you, tell me what there is ''. Once the two men arrive at the Neudorf, Chérif Chekatt then asks his driver to get off the vehicle. "He points the gun at me and says, 'Do not be stupid,'" recalls Rachid. After having handed him a bottle of water and a bundle of handkerchiefs, the taxi driver explains to the terrorist that he must leave. "I can not stay, I have to go home," he says. Left free by his passenger, he then goes to the nearest police station to deliver his testimony.
"Your life changes completely"
"It's my way of speaking, of reacting, which made that I remained alive", estimates today Rachid, which nevertheless relates the important consequences of this episode on its psychological health. "We become paranoid, we are suspicious of everyone, we no longer go to public places," he testifies, describing "the anxiety that sets in, the fear."
"Your life changes completely and that of your loved ones too," continues the one who has since been followed by a psychologist and a psychiatrist. "We become whimsical, we can be fine for a few days, then be bad with everyone for a week." And the irregular nights are full of nightmares during which he remakes the journey made during this evening. And when he wakes up, Rachid has no one near him. "I have been sleeping alone for eleven months, because sometimes I scream, and I need to be alone, it calms me".
Rachid has not worked for a year
For Rachid, the period after December 11 until today is nothing less than a "descent into hell". "I'm often told that I'm lucky I'm not dead, but it's a slow-fire torture." Moreover, for a year, he no longer works. "I'll never work in a taxi again, the last race I did was this one," he says.
Silent since the facts, the ex-taxi driver today agrees to express himself to "restore some truths", but also "for victims". "We all need to express ourselves, this is part of the reconstruction," concludes Rachid, expressing his hope that "there will be no more attacks in France".