By now the news is well known, but the shock may never subside. Yesterday evening, the terrorist group ISIS launched an organized attack on the city of Paris. The consequences were horrible, with the death toll ranging from 128 to 153.
The eight known perpetrators of the attacks targeted many locations throughout the city, including Stade de France, which was hosting an international football match between France and Germany, and Bataclan concert hall. The bombings at Bataclan resulted in roughly 112 deaths alone.
ISIS claims that they instigated the attacks in response to France’s involvement in air strikes on members in Syria and Iraq. President Hollande of France, upon recognizing that ISIS was responsible, said, “France will be pitiless in its response to the Islamic State militants, [and will] use all means within the law on every battleground here and abroad together with our allies”.
Obviously the option of launching a full on war against ISIS is on the table. However, it is unclear how well France’s allies in NATO will respond. According to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty (a NATO document), if an attack on one NATO country occurs, all members have the right and obligation to respond accordingly. In the case of these attacks in France, the premises of the treaty are complicated: Turkey, a NATO state, has more ISIS-related issues due to its location and may not want to go to war. The whole issue in regards to that is quite complex.
President Obama had some strong words on the tragedy as well: “This is an attack not just on Paris, it’s an attack not just on the people of France, but this is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values that we share. We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance that the government and the people of France need to respond. France is our oldest ally.”
It will be increasingly interesting to see if the United States ups the amount of military force it exerts on fighting ISIS. The complications with Syria right now have already polarized many people on how much US involvement there should be. Some say it is our duty to fight for those victims of injustice that do not have the resources to do so; others believe that it is not the place for the US to do so, and that we will complicate the problems even more.
What is important to note right now is that these attacks were not a direct result of the refugees that have been flooding into Europe and France in particular over the past weeks. While it is frighteningly possible that these ISIS militants could have come over amongst the mess, it is these very attacks and inhumane terrorists that the refugees are trying to escape.
ISIS has been tearing through the Middle East, parts of Northern Africa, and now in the more democratic world of Western Europe. Their mission is to instill fear and panic into the Western World through gross acts of terrorism. They want to create an even bigger divide between Muslims and other religions. They hope to create a world where those suffering in the Middle East are ignored by the rest of the world, due to fear and xenophobia.
This horrible incident in Paris creates an opportunity for the world to take a step back and reexamine how our goals for peace and toleration are being worked towards. If ISIS is going to be victorious in their goals, the world must become a place full of fear and further discrimination.
If France and Europe do not see this attack as a reason to close all borders, than ISIS cannot win. If people decide to further support Muslims in Europe and the West, rather than ignorantly blaming them for the attacks of Islamic extremists, than ISIS is not successful. These terrorist organizations thrive off of the destruction of culture and freedom that is inherent to places like France.
France was not a perfect place before these attacks, nor will it be after. The refugee situation in Europe is wildly complicated and potentially dangerous, but it is a way to free people from facing these terrors every day. More security will be needed, and that can be good. But so long as the freedoms of democratic countries are not compromised out of fear for delusional terrorists, those terrorists can never be successful.
Viva la France. Vive la liberté. Prier pour Paris.