Middle Eastern terrorists in Paris appear to have frightened many exiles into at least temporary inactivity and to have provoked the normally obedient French police into near-rebellion over the dangers to which they are exposed.
Police union representatives at the funeral today of the policeman killed in the assassination attempt against former Iranian premier Shahpour Bakhtiar told the intended victim he should move out of his luxury apartment because he was exposing his neighbors and his police guard unnecessarily.
The other residents of the building in the fashionable suburb of Neuilly, adjoining Paris, circulated a petition asking him to go. In addition to the policeman killed in the raid on the Bakhtiar apartment, a neighbor was shot dead when she opened her door.
A French lawyer who represents a number of Iranian exiles here, especially pro-monarchists, said his clients had been warned by the French police not to go outdoors. "It's no life for them," said the lawyer.
He said the clients see the purpose of the actual and attempted killings of Iranians in Washington and Paris as an effort to intimidate the opposition to the Islamic revolutionary government of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The lawyer, who also serves as a spokesman for some of the exiles, said the intimidation is working, especially in the case of exile figures, who, unlike Bakhtiar, cannot afford to hire bodyguards.
It is harder to tell what effect the terrorism is having on the attitudes of the Syrian exiles in Paris after the assasination here Monday of their most prominent leader, former premier Salah Eddin Bitar. Except for Bitar, most of the Syrian-exile politicians here already had led a far more clandestine existence than the Iranians.
Almost 4,000 police in civilian clothes staged a silent protest march today from Bakhtiar's apartment house, where their comrade was killed and three other policemen wounded Friday, to the funeral services.
Considering that the police unions asked on-duty policemen to stay at their posts, that a large number of police were mobilized for the official visit here of the Romanian president, and that many police are on vacation the turnout was large.There are 22,000 police in the Paris region, with 1,400 permanently assigned to protecting public buildings, embassies and foreign personalities.
The police have been staging what amounts to a cold war with the government, demanding that the large number of intelligence operatives and other heavily armed non-diplomats in embassies here be disarmed.
Police union spokesman say they are going to ask their members to start arresting foreign bodyguards carrying guns illegally, regardless of government orders to turn a blind eye to avoid poltical embarrassment. The spokesmen say that in the past two years a dozen persons have lost their lives, including several policemen, in Paris shootouts involving Middle East conflicts.
Two summers ago, an Iraqu bodyguard killed a French policeman outside the Iraqi Embassy. The Iraqi was allowed to go home despite heavy police protests.
The police are also demanding U.S.-style lightweight bulletproof vests, special antiterrorist training, more police guards for threatened political exiles and a requirement that foreign opposition leaders like Bakhtiar live in isolated houses that are easier to protect than incity apartments where there is a lot of coming and going.
In pursuit of their goals, the police union has made politically embarrassing revelations that the government obviously intended to keep quiet.
Among their revelations so far in radio interviews and other forums:
Twenty bodyguards of Rifat Assad, the brother of Syrian President Hafez Assad, terrorized the other guests of a hotel in Bordeaux where he lived while receiving medical treatment after an unsuccessful assassination attempt. The French government had managed to keep quiet the wounding of Rifat Assad. The official French version was that he was here for dental work.
French border police had informed regular police colleagues that the Assad party had entered the country with a large arsenal of Kalashinikov machine guns, pistols and offensive grenades but the government allegedly told the police not to interfere with the Syrian bodyguards.
Many of the African chiefs of state who visit the French capital and the international organization in Strasbourg are accompanied by armed bodyguards who have no diplomatic immunity or French gun permits.
There are about 30 indoor shooting ranges in foreign embassies in Paris for armed guards to practice in. (A U.S. Embasy spokesman said the Marine guards do their target practice at a French police range.)
Diplomatic pouches are used to bring large quantities of arms into France that would otherwise not be admitted.
Bernard Deleplace, head of the independent police union claiming to represent most police in Paris, noted in a telephone interview that diplomatic status does not give anyone the right to carry arms outside embassy premises and that his union has given orders to its members to disarm any foreigners they encounter carrying weapons, regardless of whether they have diplomatic immunity.
"It's a very dangerous situation," he said. "All the Arab and North African embassies are armed to the teeth, and they all know each other, so they shoot at each other when they meet."
High government officials indicate that they fear the recent events in Paris will aggravate latent antiforeign sentiment.
There was a clear suggestion of this in some of the police union statements and in interviews with neighbors of Bakhtiar. One man living in the same building said: "We're fed up with living in a prison, being searched 10 times a day every time we come in and out of our house. There was a beautiful villa for Khomeini" where he lived in a distant Paris suburb while in exile here. "Why doesn't Bakhtiar go live in the same one?"
Another concern for the government is its relations with the police. Tight police control has historically been an essential element of political stability here. Police relations with the government were already tense over a growing number of issues in which the police unions alleged government efforts to use the police for political purposes. The unions have been supporting members who have been cooperating with parliamentary investigations against government wishes.
Apparently with the concerns of the police and public opinion in mind.French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing issued a statement today saying that while France will continue to honor its long traditions of political asylum, "it will not accept becoming a base for foreign citizens seeking to organize or undertake violent actions. The necessary measures to protect the national territory from that will be taken."