Terror in France trivialises our worries but shouldn't change us

By David Looby

Published 17/11/2015 | 00:00

David Looby
David Looby
French people show their defiance of ISIL

TALK of war is in the air.

The word has been uttered by leaders like French Prime Minister Francois Hollande, American President Barack Obama and English Prime Minister David Cameron.

The attack on Friday night in Paris by ISIL forces on innocent civilians going about their lives has changed the rhetoric politicians are using, and will no doubt change the intensity of the campaign against ISIL.

This was the biggest attack on human life in France since the Nazis arrived in 1940.

Restaurants, the Stade de France, a popular music venue - the Batalclan theatre, were all trageted in a coordinated attack on freedom in the country which gave the world liberty, equality and fraternity.

France, through its intensive efforts to combat ISIL in Syria, and for its liberal culture, was a natural target for a monotheistic organisation like ISIL.

'A cult of death' was how David Cameron described them. ISIL members are, afterall, willing to die for their beliefs. They are an idea, more than a country, and the apocalypse is the end point of this.

The victims - numbered to be more than 130 - cannot be forgotten. The attack occurred ten months after the assassination of Charlie Hebdo staff at their magazine headquarters in Paris, the city of love.

Friday's attacks had more in common with the Mumbia bombings of July 13, 2011, which saw a series of three coordinated bomb explosions at different locations in Mumbai kill 26 people, injuring 130.

With the Charlie Hebdo attack, 11 people were killed and 11 more injured at the French satirical weekly newspaper which published controverisal images of Muhammad.

The attack on its staff was in direct response to a perceived slight against Muslims in a country whose beliefs are anathema to what ISIL and fundamentalist groups like them believe in.

For most of the western world France remains a country at the forefront of a cultural revolution. Paris is the home of that culture which represents freedom, passion and imagination. It is a penetrating culture which blossomed in the 20th century.

Today France and the world have to contend with an organisation bent on destroying these values. The ease and skill with which ISIL can proselytize young disenfranchised people from around the world is frightening, as is the apparent bottomless resources at its disposal to arm its members, but life cannot bow in fear to terrorists.

Many experts believe the attack on Paris was just the beginning. They say poor security across Europe has allowed wolves in sheep's clothing to come in among us. This has fulled right wing parties, like in Poland, in their desire to close the borders and keep all Syrian immigrants away. It is the perfect excuse for a battening down the hatches mentality.

The ugly truth is that a unilateral ground and air offensive is most likely needed to decimate ISIL's power structure, but the ideology it champions will not go away with the drop of a bomb.

As with any bloody conflict the catalyst for this was sewn in bloody war and pain. It can take generations for the bloodshed to stop. Maybe what happened in Paris will be a catalyst for a sea change in policy by world leaders. As it stands they are only papering over a gaping wound in the world with talk of war, more spies, hightened airport security etc.

More words won't stop ISIL.

Wexford People

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