The terrorist attack that shook Paris on November 13th was the deadliest attack on French soil since WWII. Eight attackers -highly coordinated- attacked simultaneously a number of targets in Paris. Among the targets were Stade de France, where a friendly football match between France and Germany took place and at the Bataclan Theater, where the US band Eagles of Death Metal was playing that night.
This time, the perpetrators were not a foreign power. They were homegrown. At least that’s where the evidence leads us. The profile follows a similar pattern: radicalised European Muslims, young males and females of Arab or African descent, disenfranchised from their society and who, as battle hardened in Syria and Iraq, returned back to Europe.
At least 129 were killed in the attacks, with another 352 injured and some of them being in critical condition. There is a high chance that the death toll will rise the following days. Paris, the European capital of arts and culture, resembles a city under a siege with President Hollande declaring a state of emergency. The French border was closed, the army has been deployed and is patrolling the streets of the French capital and most major cities, while museums and shops closed.
There was an unprecedented wave of global solidarity for the French people who have seen their country being a terrorist target for the second time in the same year. Yet, there was a call to close EU borders out of the fear that other countries will be targeted as well. Syrian refugees were targeted as well, since one of the attackers was a Syrian who was registered as a refugee in the Greek island of Lesvos in October. Yes, ISIS militant can and will attempt to disguise themselves as refugees fleeing Syria in order to get to Europe. But, Syrians are also the ones who are fleeing from these people, fleeing from war, fleeing from persecution.
The Charlie Hebdo attack, the Jewish supermarket attack, and now Paris itself, are attacks against democracy, against tolerance, against our freedom. They hit the fundamental values of Europe, its culture and they did it on European land. If we allow ourselves to be feared and intimidated then it will be as if the jihadists have already won.
We should not allow ourselves to fall prey to mass hysteria and change our lifestyle. We know who ISIS is, we know their modus operandi, who funds them, the routes they chose to move into Europe, and their recruitment techniques. This is where our fight should focus. Europe needs to be able to marginalise this international monstrous pariah, cut him from its ability to attract young people and embrace the ones fleeing from it. That’s the way we will win. The only way forward is by showing humanity, no indiscriminate desire for vengeance against every Muslim. You cannot fight terror with terror.