Pray for Paris
In what appears to be the deadliest terror attacks in France in many decades, at least 127 people were reported killed in Paris on Friday night as a series of deadly attacks was staged across the capital city. Some reports say another 200 were injured, as many as 80 seriously.
Since January, when jihadists claiming allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) and to al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb launched a massacre at the Charlie Hebdo satirical magazine and laid siege to a kosher supermarket, Paris has been on high alert. Friday night’s attacks were far more sophisticated—and more deadly—than those back in January, which involved three gunmen, and killed 14 people.
Since the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Parisians were continually reminded that terror threats remained. There are the bag searches at the doors of major department stores and public buildings, and uniformed soldiers with semi-automatic weapons patrol train stations and major intersections in Paris. All public buildings, including schools, have had red triangles posted on their front doors since January, denoting the highest state of alert in the country. And just last August, three Americans helped to stop an armed attack on a high-speed train from Brussels to Paris, when they wrestled a gunmen to the ground in the passage of the train car.
Worse still, the capital is just two weeks away from hosting its biggest event in many years—the international negotiations of climate change, which opens on Nov. 30 with a gathering of dozens of world leaders, including President Barack Obama.
Islamic State Sympathisers on Social Media
Islamic State has released a statement claiming responsibility for Friday night’s and has threatened further attacks against France. The group says the killings were in response to airstrikes against its militants in Syria, adding France would remain a “key target”. Sympathizers of the Islamic State wrote posts about the attacks in Paris on social media on Friday night and speculated that the militant group was responsible for the carnage, although it had not claimed responsibility.
Sharing messages with hashtags like “Paris Is Burning” and “The Caliphate State Strikes France,” they kept up with the rising death toll and warned that more attacks were inevitable.
No one apologies for our brothers and sisters. Look at our countries and the amount of air strikes, where’s our apology? — Abū Yahyā al-Alwān (@Speedy_Villain) November 13, 2015
Hollande says the attacks were an “act of war … prepared and planned elsewhere, with outside involvement which this investigation will seek to establish”. He adds that France will be “ruthless in its response” and declares three days of national mourning. The state of emergency declared across France on Friday night remains in place on Saturday. The measure means that most public spaces can be shut down and there is heightened police and military presence across the country. The French police stress that no public demonstrations are to be held in Paris.
Reactions of Global Leaders
The deadly attacks that took place in Paris on Friday 13th November were met with condemnation from leaders all over the world:
Face à l’effroi, il y a une Nation qui sait se défendre, sait mobiliser ses forces et, une fois encore, saura vaincre les terroristes.
— François Hollande (@fhollande) November 13, 2015
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 13, 2015
— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) November 14, 2015
The events in Paris are a horrifyingly cynical crime. We are mourning with France today https://t.co/kPJ3JXZuov
— Dmitry Medvedev (@MedvedevRussiaE) November 14, 2015
Hanno colpito la Francia, ma colpendo la Francia hanno colpito l’umanità intera. L’Italia è al fianco della Francia https://t.co/11dtGQ5wtJ
— Matteo Renzi (@matteorenzi) November 14, 2015
Social Media: How the World Reacted
Twitter, Facebook and other social media erupted after the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night. Many social media users manifested horror and solidarity for the victims. Many people living close to the affected areas were offering refuge in their homes to all those who were stuck in streets, by using the hashtag #porteouverte (open door).
Rue Saint Maur in the 11th arrondissement, we have room for you #PorteOuverte
— Benoît Jaubert (@benoitjaubert) November 14, 2015
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On Friday night, Facebook also activated a function that allows users in Paris to mark themselves as safe, and notify their friends about their status.
Many other users wanted to avoid backlashes against Muslims and used the hashtags #Muslimsarenotterrorist and #ThisIsNotIslam to claim that ISIS does not represent Islam.
— Rania Al Abdullah (@QueenRania) November 14, 2015
Paris Attacks pose a Threat to the Schengen Area
Some analysts warn that Friday’s attacks might threaten the viability of the Schengen agreement and the vision of tolerant, multi-cultural society that is “essence” of Europe. The Schengen system was designed to facilitate the free movement of goods and labour within European member states that is the economic life-blood of the continent, however, it has also enabled the easy transfer of both weapons and, potentially jihadist fighters, across those same borders. Following the attacks, Francois Hollande re-imposed border controls in an attempt to ensure that none of the Paris terrorists or their support network in France were able to escape, as it had occurred after the Charlie Hebdo atrocity in January. In the last few months Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia have also re-introduced partial and temporary border controls to try and regulate the flow of migrants – many from Syria and Iraq – as they flooded into Europe.