France is in mourning and the West mourns with it following an unprecedented act of violence and savagery by ISIS fanatics

THE FACTS

ISIS has claimed responsibility in what authorities are calling the worst attack on Paris since World War II. Early estimates range from 128 to 140 causalities, more than 200 injured and many in critical condition. The death toll will inevitably rise as the situation unfolds though everything possible is being done to help those wounded.

President François Hollande, who was at the football game at the Stade de France, has taken a firm stance in opposition to the attacks. He vowed a ‘merciless’ response to what he describes as nothing less than an act of war.

‘Faced with war, the country must take appropriate action’, Mr Hollande said as well as announcing three days of national mourning.

 

FRANCE-SHOOTING/
Many are lucky to be alive as they embrace near the Bataclan concert hall (Christian Hartmann/Retuers)

 

Likewise former president Nicolas Sarkozy said in a statement: ‘The war we wage should be total’.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron’s tepid response, while ticking all the boxes of post-tragedy speeches, was devoid of emotion. He urged the British people to expect British casualties and a Downing Street spokesman warned that officials were ‘concerned that a small number of British nationals have been caught up in the attack’.

Mr Cameron also warned that this attack shows that the Muslim extremist group ISIS are growing in power and ability, with the attack representing a ‘new degree of planning and co-ordination and a greater ambition for mass-casualty attacks’.

The biggest attack was a shooter in the Batalan concert hall killing between 80 and 112 people but three restaurants were also attacked as well as a football stadium.

  • The Batalan concert hall was the site of the largest attack, killing between 80 and 112 people
  • La Belle Equipe bar was the site of 18 killings.
  • Le Carillon restaurant was the site of a further 14 deaths.
  • De la Fontaine au Roi St was the site of five killings
  • The Stade de France, where France was playing against Germany, according to French media, was the site of two suicide attacks and an explosion. Four people died including the three attackers.
  • Voltaire Blvd was attacked and suffered one casualty

All eight attackers are dead, seven in suicide attacks and the eighth was killed by security forces at the Batalan. However, the question of accomplices lingers as such well-orchestrated attacks are near impossible without inside help.

One Paris resident tweeted out a short video of an attack on one of the Paris restaurants:

WHAT NOW?

Undoubtedly the people of France are in turmoil after the Paris attacks. With blood on the streets and many in critical condition it would be difficult not to succumb to hysteria.

ISIS’ demands are clear, as one Arabic-speaking militant put it in an undated video: ‘As long as you keep bombing you will not live in peace. You will even fear travelling to the market’. But with an organization as bloodthirsty as ISIS even a layman on the street can see that this will not bring peace. No peace has ever been garnered through terrorism.

The response will be violent and, regrettably, cruel. ISIS is not fighting for peace, in fact if there was peace ISIS would disintegrate. Terror groups are war machines that thrive on destruction while pushing their own vicious agendas.

ISIS are something at once very new and very, very old. The ideology of ISIS is reminiscent of the crusades that swept the Middle East in the eleventh century AD, killing up to an estimated 2 million people. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has rightly said, ‘we are witnessing a kind of medieval and modern fascism at the same time’.

This terrorist group are the result of uprising after uprising in which power changed hands from Sunni to Shiite Muslim rule along with ill-advised US intervention.

The UK experienced a similar battle between Protestantism and Catholicism in the sixteenth century, with Mary I of England earning herself the name ‘Bloody Mary’ after mass executions of Protestants. This battle still rages on between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, though in a less official capacity.

All this is to say that the West is no stranger to religious factions willing to crush each other in the name of their god. The only way to end the cycle is for one side to beat the other, then let them live. The only chance the Middle East has for peace is to forgive, as Peter Capaldi’s character in Doctor Who put perfectly in last week’s highly political episode when speaking to the leader of an alien terror cell:

The Doctor: When you’ve killed all the bad guys, and it’s all perfect and just and fair, when you have finally got it exactly the way you want it, what are you going to do with the people like you? The troublemakers. How are you going to protect your glorious revolution from the next one? Bonnie: We’ll win. The Doctor: Oh, will you? Well maybe — maybe you will win. But nobody wins for long. The wheel just keeps turning. So, come on. Break the cycle.

And the West? What should we do? We can’t stop fighting. Much as progressives like myself oppose war in the Middle East, ISIS cannot be allowed to continue ending lives and destroying monuments of world history, the shared culture of the human race.

It may be a cruel indictment of Prime Minister David Cameron that coverage of his response focused on Britain. Whereas German coverage by Prime Minister Angela Merkel has led with the headline: ‘Merkel: “We are crying with France” ‘. Likewise newly elected Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his sympathies:

If there is one thing we must remember it is that these attackers are just as much victims of ISIS as the people they killed. Brainwashed, indoctrinated and radicalised, the disenfranchised youth of the Middle East are suicide bombers but they are equally murdered by hateful ISIS leadership.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told the press that what Paris is suffering is what Syria has been suffering up to now. The Paris attacks only highlight why Syrian refugees are in desperate need of aid.

We cannot suffer ISIS to exist. But we cannot ever afford to let ourselves become like them by forgetting our own humanity.

 

Sources:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/11/14/us-france-shooting-idUSKCN0T22IU20151114

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34821001

http://waitbutwhy.com/2013/08/the-death-toll-comparison-breakdown.html

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/feb/26/isis-fighters-destroy-ancient-artefacts-mosul-museum-iraq

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2015-11/14/c_134816391.htm