As I expect most of you are fully aware, last Friday night there was a horrifying series of terrorist attacks on Paris. The figures are horrible – 132 killed and 352 injured as it currently stands, according to the BBC. It’s being called the deadliest attack on Paris in it’s modern history. But what I find possibly scariest is that Isis have said that Paris was only “the beginning of the storm”.
But what I really wanted to write about was the response to these attacks. There’s been vigils all over the world, flowers laid at French embassies worldwide, monuments including Tower Bridge, the London Eye, the CN Tower, and the Brandenburg Gate lit up in the colours of the French flag. If I’m not mistaken, the Empire State Building’s lights were turned out in sympathy for the French. Disneyland Paris and the Eiffel Tower are both closed, the latter “until further notice”. Parisian taxi drivers powered down their meters to give people free rides to safety. After an appeal for blood donations, the blood bank’s been announced full, willingness to help was so great. Masses of celebrities have paid tribute – David Beckham, U2 outside the Parisian venue they were supposed to be playing tonight, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, P!nk, Emma Watson…and more. I personally liked Snarky Puppy’s Facebook message:
“Our deepest condolences to all of the people affected this week by senseless violence in Paris, Beirut, and other areas where such occurrences are more regular and less reported. Our hearts go out to everyone affected by these terrible events. Love, peace, and strength from each of us to you.”
Approximately 90% of my Facebook feed and almost 100% of the friend activity column on the right hand side (above the chat thingy) is full of news about the attacks – people uploading profile pictures with the French flag filter, people liking said profile pictures, people liking associated posts, people posting condemning the attacks, all kinds of things. At least half of my friends have changed their profile pictures, permanently or temporarily, to show solidarity with France. Facebook have also deployed their Safety Check feature to allow Parisians to check in with their family and friends and declare themselves safe. Twitter too – I’ve heard about a hashtag being used for people to find and advertise safe places to stay (#PorteOuverte) – I especially liked a Sikh’s reminder that Gurdwaras are open for all – #PrayForParis, #ParisIsAboutLife (kinda the atheist version of Pray For Paris started by cartoonist Joann Sfar, who wants people to remember what Paris is about) and #MuslimsAreNotTerorist (awks when a typo starts trending, but still). Lots of Muslims are tweeting to say they condone the killings, and billions of other Muslims worldwide do too, which I think is sad that it has to happen, but also kinda good? There’s also a thing going round Facebook saying:
💙 ‘Can i just take this opportunity to remind you all that Mr Mohammed from your local shop wasn’t involved in last nights attacks on Paris. Neither was Mrs Azeer from Lloyds Bank or her family. Kamal from down the road has never been to Paris, and his brother Abdul, the taxi driver, was watching the news in horror along with everyone else.
The people behind last night’s attacks weren’t Muslims, they were extremists using religion as vindication for their cowardice.
Please, I urge each and everyone of you, do not lay blame at the doors of the innocent just because of what they believe. They are no more to blame for Paris than you are.
We are one world and one family. Treat each other as such, because what happened last night should bring us closer together, not make us lash out against our neighbours for a perceived religion affiliation’
I think this is SUCH a good and important thing to be going round social media. There’s also the Eiffel Tower peace graphic, created by Jean Jullien and widely shared:
My point is, both on and off social media, the response by the world has been overwhelming. Maybe sharing statuses on Facebook and changing your profile picture has no tangible effect, but it may help the French to know that so many people respect them and feel for them in this difficult time. Sharing statuses about how ‘terrorism is not a religion’ spreads an important message, one that people should know. However, one thing that really bugs me is the number of comments on Facebook, tweets etc. asking why so much more of a fuss is made over the Paris attacks than the ones in Lebanon and Baghdad which, to be fair, I didn’t even know about. Yes, a more Western location means more fuss, yes maybe there should be more publicity about the awful attacks happening in Syria everyday, but people shouldn’t turn a tragedy such as this in a competition, which is what I’m seeing it as. There’s no competition as to what country has the most citizens killed. Paris has been a much bigger thing in Western media because it’s so much closer to home.
Overall, the Paris attacks have terrified and horrified me. I wonder whether in future, as with the American 9/11 attacks, people will say, “I remember exactly where I was when I heard about 9/11”. For me, I’d just got home from playing in a jazz concert and was watching the ten o’clock news on the sofa with my parents. My sister was with her boyfriend. We saw the headline but didn’t catch where it was. Both my parents, on their iPads, checked their news apps and within seconds found out about it. I continued watching the news for another fifteen minutes or so, seeing the breaking updates as they came in, between other bits of news from around the globe.
I wonder what will happen next. I saw something on Facebook saying “RIP to the 100s of lives lost in Paris. But also RIP to the 100,000 more that will be lost in a revenge war”. A friend shared this article, offering a different perspective on the attacks and an alternate suggestion for how to deal with extremism (well worth a read, in my opinion).
However, as horrific as these attacks have been, what has been truly heartwarming (for the most part, at least) is the global response to them. All you have to do is scroll through Facebook, Twitter or even Buzzfeed to see it. The black ribbon displayed on the Google homepage. The link to latest news on YouTube. The “Solidarity” message and French flag on the Amazon website. It’s in situations like this that people need to know other people care, and that, happily, has been shown.
Thanks for reading my slightly incoherent rambles, I’ll leave you with what I see as a couple of fitting songs.
Fall Down // Ella Eyre
This song isn’t directly relevant, but I think the idea of supporting each other in times of trouble comes across. I feel that as a global community, for the most part we’ve shown that yes, we will follow each other to help when help is most needed.
Where Is The Love? // Black Eyed Peas
This is much more obvious as to why I chose it, as it’s directly about terrorism. It carries a very powerful message in today’s world, in my opinion.
An Overthinking Teenager