Reaction to the tragedy in Paris has been swift and sympathetic on this side of the Atlantic.  Residents in Ottawa gathered in the biting cold outside the French Embassy on Sussex Drive Wednesday evening to honor those killed.  Ottawa has sadly shared in the pain of a terrorist attack.  And so Canadians and Ottawa residents were quick to reach out to their French allies and open their hearts. Outside the French embassy on Sussex Drive, the French flag flies at half-mast, lowered in respect of those killed today.

Inside, flowers and messages of condolence were coming in, with one bearing the rally cry for those murdered: "Je Suis Charlie."

‘It shows how much Canadians care,’ says France’s Deputy Ambassador to Canada, Alexandre Vulic, ‘not only about themselves but about the rest of the world and how seriously they take such events that could unfortunately happen any time.’

And they have happened; in Ottawa in October when Corporal Nathan Cirillo was gunned down as he stood guard at the War Memorial and in Quebec, when Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent was run over.

Then in December, there was a deadly hostage taking at a cafe in Sydney, Australia.

Thomas Juneau teaches international affairs at uOttawa and is an expert in terrorism.  He says the goal of terrorism is to use violence for political gain whatever the target.

‘If you can achieve these political aims by attacking the legislature or military, that's what terrorists do but if you can target private sector, the media, then you can still sow terror.’

At the War Memorial in Ottawa today, shock and dismay over today's deadly assault in Paris.

‘I was just shocked to hear it,’ says one man, ‘a terrible way to wake up.’

And there is fear that it could foster racism.

‘I know there's a large Muslim population in France,’ says another friend, ‘my friend is there and I hope there isn't a rush to judge them.’

It is a concern that is echoed by Muslim groups here.

Amira Elghawaby is with the National Council of Canadian Muslims and a journalist herself.

‘Muslims in Canada or anywhere else will feel under the spotlight,’ says Elghawaby, ‘and feel they are implicated in this even though they have nothing to do with it.’

Elghawaby says Muslims here condemn the attack in Paris just as any other Canadians do.