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The Maastricht Diplomat

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On the Paris attacks and its aftermath

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” (Nelson Mandela)

By Hendrik Jaschob

Last Friday, Paris experienced a horrible night full of hatred. The city of lights suffered from a terrible attack that cost the lives of dozens of innocent people. The shocking strategy behind the violence still holds our breaths. Several strikes took place at the same time in the city centre and close to the football stadium Stade de France where the French national team once became world champion in 1998. On Friday, 80.000 people came to enjoy the game of their team against the current world cup winner Germany. The sheer idea that the attackers could have entered the stadium to commit suicide bombing in front of millions of television viewers cannot be put in words.

How to respond?

We cannot understand how much cruelty can be within a person to do such an act of terror. It is safe to say that Europe is under shock. Therefore, we have to ask ourselves how we respond to these horrific events. For example, Francois Hollande used a terminology of war in his speech in order to fight terrorists and the Islamic State (IS) in specific which declared to have accomplished these attacks in Paris. Last weekend, hence, the first air strikes were carried out against the IS in Syria. The events of Friday were also followed by raids and actions of police forces against a possible network of the extreme Islamist scene in France, Belgium, Germany, etc.  Marine Le Pen and the Front National gave another speech full of rejection and disgust against terrorists, refugees, and the idea of multicultural society. Refugees have immediately become a target again by right-wing movements. At this very moment, we have to be aware that the political reaction after 9/11 was similar. In 2001, this led us to the wars in Afghanistan and later in Iraq which also cost a hundred of thousands innocent lives. With the recent history of air strikes in mind, it shows that no one can guarantee that these air strikes do not hit a hospital, wedding celebration or children playing football.

Light or Darkness?

However, Martin Luther King once said that darkness could not drive out darkness, only light could do that. Furthermore, he believed that hate could not drive out hate, only love could. So, do we respond with hatred or with love and solidarity? These attacks pertain to our idea of freedom that connects people irrespective of skin colour, religion, or background. Thus, we should not support another war that will cause even more pain and suffering. We also should not let it happen that our idea of freedom and a multicultural society will be torn apart neither by radical Islamists nor by right-wing groups in Europe. It is a value that needs to be treasured.

From Pain to Love

Last Friday caused so many tears of people who lost a mother, father, daughter, son, uncle, aunt, or friend. Out of this pain, however, there are stories that are tearful in a positive way. For example, a man who lost his wife and love of his life answered in an open Facebook message to the terrorists with the following words: “Of course I am devastated by this pain, I give you this little victory, but the pain will be short-lived. I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access.”

While honouring the people who died on Friday, another man explains his anxious son that he has no reason to be afraid, despite their guns. He tells his little son that we have flowers to fight the mean people. After he answers his son question with a nodding yes whether the flowers and candles could protect us, the boy starts smiling again. These examples show that such a crime is an act against humanity – no matter where it happens. The Arabic world is plagued by such events, as we see by the suicide attack in Beirut on Thursday night – just one night before the attack in Paris took place. Let us remind the dreadful terrorist attacks in Kenya in April this year when 150 young students were killed. This phenomenon is a global issue. We should embrace people who flee because of these reasons or these people who organize such attacks. Closing borders cannot be a solution. People who condemn an entire religion should bear one last fact in mind: It was a Muslim man who prevented one of the terrorist to enter the stadium and thus saved thousands of lives.

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