Less than a year since Paris was left reeling from a terrorist attack at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, the city is again having to deal with tragedy – this time on a much greater scale.
On Friday night as a crowd gathered at a popular music venue to see a live performance, terrorists stormed the building and took the lives of 89 innocent people. From eyewitness accounts, we know that it was a calculated attack, with the gunmen seemingly choosing their victims rather than using a scattergun approach.
A second attack saw three suicide bombers detonate their explosives outside the national stadium, Stade de France, where a football match was taking place. Several restaurants were also targeted and in total 132 people are known to be dead.
These 132 people, the several hundred injured, their families and the people of Paris, and indeed France, are on whom we must focus. There has been much reported about nationality, background and motivation of those who carried out the attacks, but it is for the authorities to get to the bottom of the who, what, when and why. For the rest of us, it is not a time to theorise or second-guess, it’s a time to mourn, a time to show our solidarity with our French companions across the world.
It is worth remembering that the perpetrators of such crimes in the name of religion are a minority, with a skewed view of what it is to be true to their faith.
Over the next few days and weeks, we will hear the stories of those who died and of those who survived and we must focus on them, celebrate their lives and not let their suffering be in vain. The father who took his son to see his favourite band, the young couple having a meal in the world’s most romantic city and the young Australian girl travelling around the world for the first time – these are the people who need our thoughts, prayers and compassion.
As world landmarks turn red, white and blue, let us celebrate the strength of the French people and hope that they can overcome this tragedy. And if this video of soccer fans being evacuated from the Stade de France is anything to go by, they will indeed be strong enough to survive.