Paris Terror Attacks: France Now Faces Fight Against Fear and Exclusion
Paris Terror Attacks: France Now Faces Fight Against Fear and Exclusion
By Aurelien Mondon / theconversation.com
Nov 15, 2015

The attacks that took place at a series of venues in Paris on November 13 are already the deadliest on French soil since 1945. At least 127 people have been killed in six different places. Reports say that another 100 are in “absolute” critical condition. Police have reported that eight people believed to have carried out the attacks are also dead – seven by blowing themselves up.

It was not as though France had not prepared itself to face such a tragedy. Anti-terrorist measures have been at their highest level in Paris since January, when two brothers attacked the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing 12.

This was obvious to any bystander over the past few months. Armed soldiers have become part of the Paris experience. Yet the government’s security plan, the plan vigipirate, was not enough to stop what is so far believed to be the most organised and coordinated attack Islamic State has perpetrated outside its territory. Details are still thin on the ground, but IS has claimed responsibility. President François Hollande has blamed the group and made it clear that he sees this as an act of war.

As scenes that were indeed reminiscent of war spread across the centre of Paris, Hollande declared a state of emergency. He announced a series of radical measures such as re-establishing border controls. Schools and universities have been closed.

Meanwhile, there was the blizzard of unconfirmed information that’s to be expected in such a situation. The climate of fear was reinforced by the 24-hour news media’s tendency to not only relate the facts – as messy and incomplete as they are – but to encourage speculation.

Even as the attacks were still underway, commentators could be heard discussing what could happen next and what type of attacks we could, or indeed should, expect. The sense of panic only intensified with the proliferation of amateur videos on social media.

Emergency measures

More than ever, it will be key to take a cautious approach to explain and analyse the events and their ramifications.

Entertaining a climate of fear and paranoia could have serious consequences. Emergency measures are indeed necessary at present, but they must remain emergency measures. If they become permanent, they will send France down a deeply dangerous road.

Patrolling the Place de la Republique. Reuters/Pascal Rossignol

French politics has become deeply cynical, and the electorate has lost faith in its leaders. Many politicians will attempt to profit from this climate. Nicolas Sarkozy has already called for more drastic measures to be put in place. Some will also promise salvation by closing borders. They will call for a return to a mythical, good old peaceful France, overwriting the country’s history and its constant and violent flux between reaction and revolution.

To prevent such appropriations and long-term consequences, it is crucial not to jump to simplistic conclusions – as happened after 9/11, an event that has already been invokedmany times.

This would be playing right into the hands of the terrorists themselves. A war of civilisations is the very fantasy IS and its ilk are trying to construct. They seek to enshrine divisions between an imagined “us” in the West, standing together for a loosely defined version of democracy, and “them”, attempting to appear a united force in an area torn apart by years of war.

Falling for this narrative would offer IS exactly the false image of unity it wants to propagate. It would also be a dangerous simplification of who ‘we’ are – at the expense of anyone who acts or thinks differently.

Accepting such divisions will impact our own community, building walls between all those sharing the same space, be it a city or a country. As was the case in the January attacks, it will be essential not to fall for seemingly reassuring but ultimately self-defeating strategies such as scapegoating.

We can expect many to make despicable connections between terrorists and the various communities in France who have been targeted in recent years by a rise in xenophobia. That logic increasingly has been legitimised by opportunistic politicians, commentators and sections of the media.

Exclusion not the answer

Indeed, in January, many such voices demanded that members of France’s “Muslim community” show their opposition to the attacks. Those calls often came from well-meaning people. But they showed a deeply discriminatory attitude now commonplace in France, where a particular group – one as diverse as any other – was stereotyped and associated with its most extreme members.

We can expect these irrational suspicions to appear again after these attacks. Every move made by Muslims in France, will be scrutinised. Some will also point to refugees – even as many are themselves fleeing IS.

In the coming days, weeks and months, it will be crucial that we avoid lapsing into that fear. If we do, we will only summon more fear and paranoia, incur ever more stringent laws limiting liberties for all, and inflict more pain through discrimination and segregation on those already suffering from exclusion. All these things will in turn provide further recruitment propaganda for extremist groups.

No matter how obvious it seems to many of us, it will be worth repeating that it is not Muslims, immigrants or refugees who are responsible for the attacks, but handfuls of fanatics wanting us to continue down a terrible path of mistrust, exclusion and curtailment of basic freedoms.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Aurelien Mondon is a lecturer in French politics in the Department of Politics, Languages and International Studies at the University of Bath.

0.0 ·
0
Trending Today
Looking Forward to the Day That Nationalism Is as Reviled as Racism
Tim Hjersted · 9,281 views today · Nationalism is a form of geographical racism that makes some lives matter more than others, and explicitly justifies that logic without apology. While today, not even lying...
Supporters 'Ecstatic' After Obama Commutes Chelsea Manning's Sentence
Nika Knight · 5,913 views today · Whistleblower to be released from military prison in May
Why It's Crucial for Women to Heal the Mother Wound
Bethany Webster · 5,159 views today · The issue at the core of women’s empowerment is the mother wound
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 3,209 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
How Mindfulness Empowers Us
2 min · 1,688 views today · Many traditions speak of the opposing forces within us, vying for our attention. Native American stories speak of two wolves, the angry wolf and the loving wolf, who both live...
Escape! From the Cult of Materialism (2016)
50 min · 936 views today · Does the philosophy of materialism work to destroy our identities, experience, and environment? Join narrator Daphne Ellis on a radical romp through the evidence and decide for...
Dinosaur explains Trump policies better than Trump!
8 min · 930 views today · Donald Trump is actually the corporate triceratops, Mr. Richfield, from the 90's TV show sitcom, "Dinosaurs". 
Before He Was Assassinated, MLK Jr. Was Advocating For An End To Income Inequality
10 min · 897 views today · We can honor MLK Jr. by pursuing the causes he was advocating for before he was killed.  ​​ Part 2: The Basic Income, A New Human Right (3 minutes) MLK's idea of a basic...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 688 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
One "Piece of the Oppressor" That I Have Discovered Within Myself
Tim Hjersted · 623 views today · One "piece of the oppressor" that I have found in myself during my inner activist journeys is my use of shame as a method of engaging with the world's problems. Having learned...
Coping With Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the White House
N Ziehl · 623 views today · I want to talk a little about narcissistic personality disorder. I’ve unfortunately had a great deal of experience with it, and I’m feeling badly for those of you who are...
Here's How We're Going to End Factory Farming
2 min · 601 views today · Factory farming is a huge problem. But the solution is simple, if you'll join us. Watch this short 2 minute video to see how... Help make a kinder world possible...
The Invention of Capitalism: How a Self-Sufficient Peasantry was Whipped Into Industrial Wage Slaves
Yasha Levine · 588 views today · “…everyone but an idiot knows that the lower classes must be kept poor, or they will never be industrious.” —Arthur Young; 1771 Our popular economic wisdom says that...
The Top 100 Documentaries We Can Use to Change the World
Films For Action · 374 views today · A more beautiful, just and sustainable world is possible. Take this library and use it to inspire global change!
The Greening of the Self: The Most Important Development of Modern Times
Joanna Macy · 368 views today · Something important is happening in our world that you are not going to read about in the newspapers. I consider it the most fascinating and hopeful development of our time...
What Martin Luther King Jr. Can Teach Us about Nonviolence
John Dear · 336 views today · I've been reflecting on the principles of nonviolence that Martin Luther King Jr. learned during the historic yearlong bus boycott in Montgomery, Ala. After Rosa Parks refused...
This Woman Gets No Applause...Why? They Are Too Creeped Out...
7 min · 329 views today · Think you aren't being fooled by advertising tricks? Take a look at this so-called expert revealing food marketing's secret weapon. No amount of marketing makes factory farming...
90 Inspiring and Visionary Films That Will Change How You See the World in Profound Ways
Tim Hjersted · 287 views today · The world today is in crisis. Everybody knows that. But what is driving this crisis? It's a story, a story that is destroying the world. It's a story about our relationship to...
The Corporation (2003)
145 min · 280 views today · The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future...
Stunning Photos By Alexander Semenov Showcase The Alien Beauty Of Jellyfish
Earth Porm · 264 views today · Jellyfish appear like beautiful aliens in Alexander Semenov’s photography, calling a new attraction to a magical species of marine life. Alexander Semenov is a marine...
Load More
What's Next
Like us on Facebook?
Paris Terror Attacks: France Now Faces Fight Against Fear and Exclusion