Wednesday, December 13The Voice of London

After Paris: Our First Thoughts

Our news team share their thoughts on the deadly terrorist attacks that struck Paris this week.

Trafalgar Paris Photo 2

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Isabella Ellis, Editor

My deepest sympathies lie with Paris, as they have been brought to their knees by another ISIS attack so soon after Charlie Hebdo. But it’s the eery resemblance between the two atrocities that I think we must pay attention to – social media has exploded in anger at the seeming disregard for deadly attacks in Beirut and Baghdad on Friday. In Nigeria, the same day as Charlie Hebdo, Boko Haram massacred 2000 people, but similarly it barely made the headlines.

This is the sort of stuff we’ve got to address – we’re not going to solve the problem of extremism if we only sympathise with the Europeans affected. It’s understandable that we identify more with France and it’s okay, too – we just have to realise with horror that this is the daily reality for many of the refugees out in the cold on our doorstep.

Instead of Francois Hollande stepping up the bombardment against ISIS, I’d like to have seen him and the rest of the EU cut ties with Saudi Arabia – a human rights abuser and funder of terrorism. Rather than implementing harsher border restrictions, an act of compassion would have been far more productive – introducing safe camps for the refugees (some of whose terror we just experienced first-hand.)

This isn’t just liberal, left-wing idealism – it’s sensible. ISIS, like Al-Qaeda, rely on a strategy of terror and of disunity. They want us to hate refugees, they want us to argue with each other – it gives them better opportunity to radicalise new recruits. They want us to drop bombs on them, it supports the first point and it legitimises them as a state.

Fighting terrorism with bombs clearly doesn’t work, it seems strange we cannot accept these lessons from Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan. If we continue this blind, panicked bombing routine and hastily make frightened decisions regarding the borders we will only strengthen ISIS, inside and out.


Mariya Savova, Deputy Editor

My thoughts and prayers go out to Paris and everyone in France. As I watched Friday’s attacks in the French capital unfold, I went through a series of emotions – disbelief, shock, sadness, anger, fear. I guess that’s what most of us experienced. After all, a city that everyone associates with love and joy became the scene of a massacre.

Terror hit Europe in its heart once again and this time it targetted innocent people who were enjoying their Friday night by having dinner at a restaurant, attending a rock concert or watching a friendly game between the French and German national teams. I’m sure that’s what some of us were doing as well, only that we were lucky enough not to be in Paris but in some other city in the world.

129 people lost their lives in the French capital, more than 300 were injured and those who made it out alive have been scarred for life, as they had to play dead and lay down in the blood of strangers for what must have seemed like an eternity. Just the day before, dozens were killed in double suicide bombings in Beirut, Lebanon. Last month 224 passengers on board of a Russian plane were blown up over Sinai, Egypt. Meanwhile, the death toll in Syria keeps rising with each passing day. So, we are all wondering when is this violence going to stop?

Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like it will stop anytime soon. French President Francois Hollande said that France will be “ruthless” in its response to ISIS and he didn’t hesitate to launch airstrikes on Syria and Iraq. One moment Parisians were enjoying a night out, the next one they were at war. Hollande’s decision comes as no surprise. France is hurting at the moment and wants revenge. However, as long as the West and the Middle East keep bombing each other, we will never live in peace.

On Friday night, the world united in the wake of the Paris attacks. Parisians tweeted “#PorteOuverte” and opened up their homes to help strangers. The following day a lot of them tweeted reassuring messages to Muslims fearing backlash. And I thought – yes, there are bad people out there but for every bad person, there are thousands of good people. So, I’m choosing to stay hopeful and believe that European nations won’t forget their values, that they won’t close their borders to people in need, that they will prefer peace over war and most of all, that they will stay united in the face of terror.

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Corey Armishaw, Tech reporter

The events in Paris have caused a chain reaction of political and social responses. Social media has been awash with profile pictures sporting the French flag and messages of support followed by the hashtag #PrayForParis.

This led to the criticism that any loss of life is equal in significance, with claims that similar tragedies (such as those committed by Boko Haram) have been wrongly shunned. Even The Dalai Lama spoke about his dislike for people saying prayers in these situations, claiming we cannot just hope for God to fix man made problems. I can understand the claims, but Stephen Colbert points out, it’s all meant in good faith.

Politically, the most powerful international leaders have all declared their support in joining France in their retaliation against ISIS. For some, this sparks concerns about another full scale invasion, but it seems more likely to mean an increase in air strikes and covert missions operated by special forces.

ISIS are also facing opposition from hacker group Anonymous, after they ‘declared war’ on the terror group. Within one day of doing so, they claimed to have removed over 3000 pro-ISIS twitter accounts and websites.

The effects that we’ll feel in the UK is the likelihood that the attacks in Paris will be used to help push the government’s own agenda and achieve public backing for mass surveillance. Home Secretary Theresa May has already announced heightened security for large scale events, and she will no doubt push the new Snoopers Charter on the wake of Paris.

My final thoughts are about the effect terrorism has on our society. These extremists want to instil fear into our hearts. In some way, Al-Qaeda succeeded in doing this; you only need to look at the amount of security in airports across the world since 9/11 to see this.

Some argue if we change the way we live in response to terror attacks, then we have lost. But how do we draw the line? Surely it’s understandable that safety precautions have to be taken after an attack like this, such as the cancellation of any stadium events. But the concern that won’t be answered for months to come, is how much of an effect this will have on the public subconscious? And whether our day to day life will stay the same, or be changed for good.

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