Tim Samuels' Sleepover - Paris

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20151217

In the days after the recent terror attacks in Paris, documentary-maker Tim Samuels spent a weekend living in a notorious 'banlieue' - one of the neglected suburbs on the edge of the city, seen as breeding grounds for radicalism.

At least four of the killers from the January and November attacks came from these poor suburbs, but are politicians and the media right to make a direct connection between the banlieues and extremism? What repercussions have the attacks had on those living in the estates, who already feel highly marginalised?

Tim stays with a Moroccan single mother and her young son who live in La Grande Bourne on the south side of Paris - a concrete mass penned in on all sides by main roads, and a far cry from its initial vision as a 1960s utopia. The estate is now a byword for extremism - it was home to Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four shoppers in a kosher supermarket and a policewoman at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Yet Tim finds his host and many others are resolute that their community has been wrongly demonised.

He meets some of those who knew Coulibaly. They say he appeared perfectly normal just days before he launched his murderous assault, and suggest his radicalisation took place in prison.

For all the defiance of some, other locals tell Tim that they feel like 5th-class citizens - living in an area where even the police won't respond to their calls. Tim also finds many shops shuttered up, open drug dealing and taxis refusing to enter the area.

As he says farewell to his host family, Tim leaves the estate filled with conflicting narratives - hope and defiance rubbing up against despair and extremism. He is then given some surprising news by his taxi driver...

A Tonic Media production for BBC Radio 4.