At 21:30 on the 13th of November, the largest co-ordinated terror attack on French soil since the Vitry-Le-François train bombing of 1961 took place in Paris. The Telegraph estimates that 129 people were killed, and 200 were wounded, with 99 of those wounded in critical condition in hospital. The attack was claimed by Daesh*.
Seven co-ordinated terror attacks took place, perpetrated by eight individuals wearing suicide vests. Of these eight, seven committed suicide during the attack while the final aggressor was shot by French officials. The search for accomplices is still ongoing and eye-witness reports claim that at least one accomplice fled from the scene of the attacks.
At 21:30, three explosions were heard outside the Stade-du-France, where France was playing Germany in an international football game. President Francoise Hollande was in attendance. Simultaneously, attacks occurred on the Boulevard Voltaire, La Belle Equipe (a bar on the Rue de Charonne), and Casa Nostra (a pizzeria on the Rue de la Fontaine au Roi), all in the 11th district of Paris. Two restaurants on the Rue Bichat in Paris’ 10th district – Le Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge – were also held up. The largest attack, however, was on the Bataclan music venue, which was stormed by at least three terrorists who started firing randomly at the audience, killing some 82 people. It is believed that the attackers reloaded their weapons at least three times before authorities stormed the building and the attackers activated their explosive vests.
People from around the world have been sending their deepest sympathies to both France and Paris, and social media is full of messages to anyone suffering as a result of these senseless acts of terror. Yet, in the back of everyone’s mind is the knowledge of history’s repetitiveness. The attacks on Charlie Hebo are being renewed in the world’s collective memory as #JesuisHebo is being swapped for #prayforParis and France is plunged in to yet another period of nationwide mourning. I am lucky enough to be safe – and to not know anyone who isn’t, but there are only a few degrees of separation that link anyone in the world to Paris and the great suffering that consumes the city this afternoon.
Let me add my voice to those praying for Paris, and extend the truest, deepest sympathy with anyone who is suffering. Such grief is impossible to truly understand without having experienced it first hand.
Yet a question must be asked here – would anyone who has experienced an earth-shattering tragedy today ever even dream of wishing that feeling on others? If we have know what it is like to lose a loved one before their time, we pray we never have to again, and, if we are lucky enough to have not, we pray we never will.
So why, then, in the aftermath of these brutal attacks, are there calls for more violence?
Why do we want to go to war?
In a statement aired on French television, President Francois Hollande said “France will have no mercy against the barbarians of Daesh. We will use all lawful means and all means that are convenient on all grounds internally and externally, in conjunction with our allies who themselves are targeted by this terrorist threat.” He called the terrorist attacks “an act of war,” against the French state.
ISIS responded with a statement “France and those who follow her voice must know that they remain the main target of Islamic State and that they will continue to smell the odour of death for having led the crusade, for having dared to insult our prophet, for having boasted of fighting Islam in France and striking Muslims in the caliphate with their planes.”
Already, we can see the language of war emerging, and this was supported by other world leaders. Obama’s statement emphasized that “[The USA] will do whatever it takes to work with the French people and the nations around the world to bring these terrorist to justice and go after any terrorist networks that go after our people.”
Similarly, David Cameron chaired a meeting of COBRA, the UK’s defence council this morning, and in his statement made sure to point out that “the threat from ISIL is evolving.”
I am a 19-year-old student and I am scared.
Actually no, I’m not scared.
by Oli Dunkley
I am terrified because I do not want to go to war, because this violence is so close to home. I am terrified because I do not want to see the horrors that were seen in Paris last night reproduced on a scale so great that no-one will be safe from mourning.
In times like this, we forget that when we wage war, there are victims on both sides. The people killed in the Paris attacks did not authorise the air-strikes against Daesh in Syria, it was the French government. Similarly, the people that may fall under the sword of heightened involvement in the Middle East did not order these terrorist attacks. Last night was an undoubtable tragedy, but then so were the 200,000 deaths of the Iraq war, some 120,000 of which were estimated to be civilians.
Are these people so alien to us that we can wish on them the grief that we would never desire for one of our own? And if we condemn these acts of violence as senseless, do our own acts of violence make any more sense? Are we to reduce colossal and wide reaching human suffering to the simple argument of “but they started it”? Because really and truly, that’s not an easy question to answer.
As Pope Francis said in 2013,
“War begets war, violence begets violence.”
But then, perhaps George Carlin sums it up better –
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
In the face of violence, let’s not ask for war. Let’s ask for peace. Let’s not beg for the same violence that was seen last night to be repeated on a daily basis.
And let’s pray that with this message, the pain being suffered in Paris today will one day become a memory of the past.
*Daesh is an alternative term for ISIS. See the following link form the Independent for more information.
*The content of Perspective articles, as with all articles posted on the Tribe, reflects solely the views of the authors. The opinions expressed are not those of the Tribe as a publication or necessarily those of any other member of the editorial and/or writing staff*