166 Views

The Paris Terror Attacks

 William Crona delves deeper into the atrocities of last week. 

Soon after 21.00 GMT on Friday evening, the French capital was subjected to a display of violence and terror in its streets that has no equal in recent history.

I am sure we have all read the details. In a streak of synchronised attacks, gunmen wearing explosive vests opened fire outside bars, restaurants and cafés in the central districts of Paris.

The bloodiest attack, on the Bataclan concert hall, left some 80 people dead.

In the north of Paris, president Francois Hollande was one of 80,000 people in attendance at a friendly game between France and Germany at the Stade de France stadium when explosions went off outside the stadium that left 3 people dead. Combined, the attacks took 129 lives.

On Saturday, Islamic State released a statement claiming responsibility for the attacks. In an undated video released by the terrorist organisation, an IS fighter claims that the attacks are a response to French airstrikes in Syria. He says in Arabic, “as long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market.”

President Hollande described Friday’s atrocities as an “act of war”. He continued to say that, “the country must take appropriate action… France will be pitiless in its response to the Islamic State militants,” promising to “use all means within the law… on every battleground here and abroad together with our allies.”

Within 48 hours, France launched airstrikes, coordinated with the help of United States’ intelligence, against Islamic State targets around al-Raqqa, Syria.

If the Islamic State’s claims of responsibility are true, then, as BBC’s Security Correspondent, Frank Gardner states, ”taken with their claim of bringing down the Russian airliner over Sinai in October, it marks an alarming step-up in their global reach.”

This is not the last attack on the West that we will see perpetrated by the self- styled jihadist organisation, IS, and its affiliates. What each act of terror on western soil since 9/11 has served to underscore is that the illusion, built up in the decades after World War II, of the West’s impenetrability is no longer sustainable. The self-preserving belief that we are at a safe distance from this conflict is wrenched from us with each act of terror carried out on our doorsteps.

This war instantly becomes something far more than a story in the newspaper, something that we can freely and dispassionately devote a few minutes of our time to as we travel to work or watch the evening news. The militants are among us, it seems they want us to understand, and we are being confronted with a frightening reality.

Another important question is why France has emerged recently as one of the primary targets for the so-called jihadists? The combination of factors is too broad and complex to investigate fully here, but a few will be noted, none of which, I hope it is understood, are intended as any sort of justification for the violent acts of terror that have taken place. No provocation of any kind can be rightfully offered as justification for this kind of inhumane brutality.

We don’t need to be reminded that the responsibility for violence always lies with those who perpetrate it. Nevertheless, this violence has not, is not, taking place in a vacuum and it is necessary to explore the context if there is to be any hope of understanding the nightmare that is invading our reality.

Firstly, French policy regarding the conflict in Iraq and Syria has been more direct than any other European country. IS cite directly, as the reason for this latest attack, France’s role alongside the United States in launching air-strikes in Syria and Iraq, “striking Muslims in the lands of the caliphate.”

Another factor that demands attention is France’s historical role in the areas in which IS is currently operating. For the twenty-six years between 1920 and 1946, France ruled Syria as a mandate.

Unsurprisingly, French rule was unpopular and repeated uprisings in Syria throughout the mandate period faced ruthless suppression by French forces, with casualties sometimes numbering in the thousands.

This legacy of violent rule, it would appear, has not gone out of popular memory. It is not inconceivable that in targeting France, jihadists carry with them a memory of France’s bloodstained colonial past that serves, from their perspective, as a justification for their acts of terrorism.

There are numerous instances of more recent problematic foreign intervention in the Middle East, involving many countries other than France. What the historical context underscores, however, are the deep roots of the grievances that underlie current hostilities.

Furthermore, there is a more pronounced split in French society than in Britain for example, resulting from what some consider to be failed assimilation policies. Controversial policies, such as the burka ban, have contributed to a sense that in order for Muslims (among others) to assimilate into French culture, they are forced to surrender symbolically important aspects of their identity.

The marginalisation of minorities in France and the sense of a societal divide has only been exacerbated since the Charlie Hebdo attacks last January.

As of February 2015, the National Observatory Against Islamophobia reported 116 acts of anti- Muslim behaviour, including vandalism at holy sites, acts of violence against individuals and threats. This figure records just two months of data for 2015 and is higher than the overall figure for 2014.

It is dificult to take a stand on whether this latest act of violence, which surpasses the Charlie Hebdo massacre in both scope and severity, is intended to provoke the French into further armed conlict in Syria and Iraq.

On the one hand, it’s difficult to think that such an act of terrorism against France could fail to produce anything but a radical response. On the other hand, Aris Roussinos of VICE News offers a persuasive argument that when IS suffers humiliating defeats in its heartlands, as has occurred over the past two weeks, they employ a compensatory “grim PR strategy” of sensationalist attacks such as the ones witnessed in Paris and Beirut.

Currently, France’s response has been an immediate act of revenge. I do not think I am alone in saying that the news of France’s airstrikes has given me no solace and so sense of justice. It is simply satisfying a lust for revenge.

It is sinking to the level of those we claim to be superior to. If we truly believe in the human value of the 129 people who died in Paris on Friday, then how can we fathom standing in support of an immediate, uncalculated response that spills more blood?

Meanwhile, Friday’s attacks have initiated a tightening of security across several European countries. Poland has announced that it can no longer accept the share of migrants it had been allocated under an EU plan approved in September, many of whom are Syrian refugees.

In light of this, there is something else that we, as representatives of a culture that prides itself on liberty, tolerance and openness, must ensure.

Regardless of how France chooses to proceed, we – I am speaking to anybody who esteems the above principles – cannot allow acts of evil like these to discourage us from upholding the very tenets upon which our culture prides itself.

We must do the opposite. We must stand firm and united by empathy and compassion for all the victims of terror: at home and abroad. We must take the mud of terrorism and turn it into the gold of humanism. We must ensure that innocent people are not made to suffer at our hands by false association with acts of cruelty with which they have no involvement.

Muslims everywhere must not be made to pay for the crimes of IS. Refugees must not be made to pay for the crimes of IS. It must be ensured that refugees, victims running from the very same groups who caused devastation in Paris on Friday, are not made to suffer as a result of these groups’ brutality.

We must ensure that people in the West are mobilised not only to feelings of mourning and empathy for any and all those affected by the attacks in France and Lebanon; but also feelings of empathy for refugees who are fleeing countries where IS’s terror is felt every day.

We must not let the barbarity of an evil minority impact the possibility of providing safety and welfare for a victimised majority.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
509 views1
Campus News
509 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
51 views
Arts
51 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
94 views
Arts
94 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
93 views
Arts
93 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
116 views
Arts
116 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
137 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
150 views
Arts
150 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
141 views
Arts
141 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
228 views
Campus News
228 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
107 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
211 views
Arts
211 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
140 views
Arts
140 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
212 views
Artist Focus
212 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley
Interview
146 views
Interview
146 views

Interview with Philosophy faculty and COGS director Ron Chrisley

Nikolaos Manesis - May 15, 2018

Ron Chrisley is a Reader in Philosophy, on the faculty of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science, and is the director of COGS (Centre for Cognitive Science).…

Adam review
Arts
215 views
Arts
215 views

Adam review

Ketan Jha - May 13, 2018

If you have been a stranger to the stage this spring and decide to see one contemporary show, let it be Adam. This reviewer went in entirely…

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
238 views
Arts
238 views

Brighton Fringe Preview: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 13, 2018

In celebration of iconic Brighton local, legendary alt-rock musician (and episodic actor) Nick Cave, TOM’s Film Club are hosting a double-bill screening of his films at The…

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review
Arts
276 views
Arts
276 views

Whimsical fairy-tale meets class war – Standard: Elite review

Georgia Grace - May 11, 2018

Meta-theatricality and interactivity are becoming all the more vogue in contemporary theatre, and in a world where the arts are becoming increasingly open and democratised, I find…

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks
Artist Focus
191 views
Artist Focus
191 views

A Year of Art Society: The Best Picks

Alex Leissle - May 9, 2018

  [gallery type="slideshow" ids="35385,35386,35387,35388,35389,35390,35391,35392,35393,35394,35395,35396,35397,35398,35399,35400,35401,35402,35403,35404,35405,35406,35407,35408,35409,35410,35411"]

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival
Books
200 views
Books
200 views

More Brit(ish) than ever: A review of Afua Hirsch at Brighton Festival

William Singh - May 9, 2018

Afua Hirsch’s 2018 book - part memoir, part polemic - provokes mixed feelings. So too did her discussion of the topic at this year’s Brighton Festival. Don’t…

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality
Science
255 views
Science
255 views

Ethnic-bioweapons: between conspiracy and reality

Luke Richards - May 8, 2018

Bioweapons exist, while ethnic-bioweapons are whispered conspiracies. Pandemics can fairly hazardous to human life, the 1918 Flu Pandemic killed 20-50 million people. A man made pandemic could…

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced
News
265 views
News
265 views

Breaking: Spring referenda results announced

Jessica Hubbard - May 4, 2018

Students have voted to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement, reject Prevent and adopt new Gender Equality policies. Results for the Students' Union referenda were…