Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The November 13 attacks targeted activities that are dear to Parisians, symbols of the French joie de vivre

  … reports say at least 129 people died and more than 350 were wounded in last Friday’s attacks 
writes Carine Martinez-Gouhier at the Federalist;
99 people are still in critical condition. Terrorists all carried powerful rifles and suicide bomb vests, which they did not hesitate to detonate. Not only were those attacks the most deadly Paris has known in the past decades, they are likely to tremendously impact the way of life of Parisians and French people in the months to come. …

The Terrorists Chose Specifically French Targets

 … In their statement claiming responsibility for the attacks, ISIS declared targets were carefully chosen in advance. In fact, while the Charlie Hebdo attack aimed to suppress free speech, the November 13 attacks targeted activities that are dear to Parisians, symbols of the French joie de vivre: restaurants where diners were enjoying food and drinks on a Friday night, a soccer game (soccer is France’s favorite sport), and a legendary Parisian concert venue.

The attacks were obviously meant to make as many victims as possible and to change the way the French would go about their life. French President Francois Hollande started this by asking Parisians to stay home. But his recommendation was probably not necessary.

 … By definition, terrorism is meant to create a state of fear in the population. Economically, this is not good for France, of course, which is already struggling to reach an estimated 1.1 percent growth rate for 2015. More worrisome is how the country might be politically impacted by the attacks. The temptation to turn to populist voices may be easy. Although the next presidential election will take place in 2017, results from regional elections next month might give us a hint (supposing people will go out to vote). Marine Le Pen’s far-right Front National Party might end up gaining more support following the events.

Mourn, Then Take Action

What can be done, then?
The French should first give themselves time to mourn their dead. Three days of national mourning started on Sunday, November 15. Emotional reactions to the attacks should then be followed by serious questioning about the effectiveness of several policies.

There are times in life when one wishes to be wrong. Sadly, I can’t say we did not see these attacks coming. Not only had ISIS warned France several times, but it is no secret that some areas of France, and some suburbs of Paris, have become fertile breeding ground for Islamization of young people and weapons trafficking. This problem should be addressed without having to play contortionist to avoid hurting the feelings of anyone.

France has very restrictive speech laws. Forbid people to engage in open debate, and unscrupulous politicians will exploit fears. Open debate would bring additional ideas, probably good and bad, on how to better fight the enemy we are facing. Anyone who opposes the attacks should be able to understand that. To use a popular expression these days, the victims of the attacks received no trigger warnings (no pun intended) before being executed in cold blood. Censoring fears will not help.

A good example would start with debating allowing the French to be able to carry guns to defend themselves and their loved ones, if necessary. Do we need further evidence that strict gun laws do not prevent criminals from obtaining deadly weapons to commit their crimes? The police will never be able to react soon enough to all dangerous situations, not to mention cases like Friday’s attacks, in which the goal is to kill as many people as possible. Someone carrying a gun might not have stopped the attacks, but the death toll might have been reduced. After the November 13 attacks, the French deserve to at least have the opportunity to debate whether gun control has made their livee safer.