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Extra! Who Is Hayat Boumeddiene, France's Most Wanted Woman?

"I feel relaxed and calm," Hayat Boumeddiene told her friends. It was last October, and the 26-year-old was in her father's living room on the eastern outskirts of Paris, after having just returned from the Hajj, the sacred Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, with her partner Amedy Coulibaly.

Three months later Coulibaly, on January 8 and 9, would kill five people in terror attacks in and around Paris, while investigators say Boumeddiene has fled France, probably toward Syria.

This week's issue of the French magazine L'Obs features a six-page investigation on the young woman, titled "The Fugitive".

In what would be the last time her French friends saw her, Boumeddiene recounted the trip to Mecca. "It's an amazing journey, spiritually speaking," she told them. "It's a way to fight away everything that is evil within us."

The weekly recounts how Boumeddiene went from living an ordinary life in the outskirts of Paris to becoming France's — and the world's — most wanted woman. There are descriptions of seemingly typical desires to "succeed in life" and at school, as well as her escape for Syria with two known radical Islamists in early January 2015.

Her friends describe how Boumeddiene transformed from "religious but not proselytizing" to wearing a full veil and discussing jihad. There are also details how she seemed to be living as a happy couple with Coulibaly, before buying the weapons that would kill a policewoman and four Jewish shoppers in a kosher market.

it is a tale that has become to sound familiar of how someone in the West become progressively more radical with religious fervor and a strong sense of injustice.

The questions French investigators are now trying to answer are who brainwashed whom, and how involved was she in the terror attacks themselves? Will she ever reappear, serving Islamist propaganda from Syria, where she took refuge after crossing the Turkish border?

ABOUT THE SOURCE: L'Obs, formerly known as Le Nouvel Observateur ("The New Observer") is France's most-read weekly newsmagazine. Founded in 1964, it is owned by Bergé-Niel-Pigasse and the Groupe Perdriel.

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For Seniors, Friendship May Be More Important Than Family

Even if the aging and elderly tend to wind up confined to family circles, Argentine academics Laura Belli and Danila Suárez explore the often untapped benefits of friendship in our later years.

Photograph of two elderly women and an elderly man walking arm in arm. Behind the, there are adverts for famous football players.

Two elderly women and a man walk arm in arm

Philippe Leone/Unsplash
Laura F. Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé

Updated Dec. 10, 2023 at 10:10 p.m.

BUENOS AIRES — What kind of friendship do people most talk about? Most often it is childhood or teenage friendships, while friendships between men and women are repeatedly analyzed. What about friendships among the elderly? How are they affected when friends disappear, at a stage when grieving is already more frequent?

Argentines Laura Belli and Danila Suárez Tomé, two friends with PhDs in philosophy, explore the challenges and benefits of friendship in their book Filosofía de la amistad (Friendship Philosophy).

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They consider how friendships can emerge later in life, in profoundly altered circumstances from those of our youth, with people living through events like retirement, widowhood, reduced autonomy or to a greater or lesser degree, personal deterioration. All these can affect older people's ability to form and keep friendships, even if changes happen at any stage in life.

Filosofía de la amistadexplores the place of friendships amid daunting changes. These are not just the result of ageing itself but also of how one is perceived, nor will they affect everyone exactly the same way. Aging has firstly become a far more diverse experience, with increasing lifespans and better healthcare everywhere, and despite an inevitable restriction in life opportunities, a good many seniors enjoy far greater freedom and life choices than before.

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