Nous sommes Paris

‘I want to believe we’re not going to live in a world of fear.’ Dr Louise Hefez. Eyewitness.

Like so many others today, I wait for news from Paris. Not the impersonal horror of announcements in the media, but the email to reassure that amongst the dead and injured of this atrocity are not those I have called friend or family.

I lived, laughed and loved in Paris. I worked and played there. Married. For many years I was known as Madame Verron. My sons are half French, their father a Parisian and I have called friend those of every faith and nation encountered in the City of Light.

Friendship does not discriminate.

Neither do bullets. Nor do bombs.

Nor should we.

There are over two million people living in Paris. It is statistically unlikely that anyone I know has been involved. It came closer with Charlie Hebdo… Even so, I now wait for news… just in case… as do thousands of others across the world.

For some, the news has already arrived.

They weep for those to whom an offhand ‘à bientôt’ or ‘à demain’ will be the last words they uttered and for whom that ‘soon’ or ‘tomorrow’ will now never come. For every one of those lost a whole family and a circle of friends will grieve. For each of those injured, a ripple of pain will spread wide. For those who walked away physically unscathed there will be the scenes lodged in memory, of horror and fear as they watched helpless, that will colour their lives. For all there is the stunned horror of knowing that human beings did this to each other.

For some, there will be the knowledge that such an atrocity was perpetrated by those they love. Not all will agree with such actions and will abhor the crime committed. They too are victims.

That this atrocity should be the act of a human hand rather than accident or natural disaster makes a very real difference to the ever-unanswered questions that will remain. In spite of statements to the contrary, is not an arguable act of war. It is murder.

And why? What purpose does it serve to slaughter civilians? None at all, except to drive a divisive wedge of suspicion, hatred and fear deep into the heart of the human community.

Because one man wreaks horror and hatred upon others it does not justify hatred of a race. Because a minority of extremists take it upon themselves to speak, unasked, for others, that does not render all guilty of murder nor should such atrocities be allowed to engender global hatred. If it does, the extremists have already won.

While the hearts of the free world go out to those in Paris, there are other victims of terrorism across the world, those who flee their homes to escape extremism, those who mourn daily the less reported atrocities, those who now walk our streets in fear of terrorist attack… or reprisal because of their faith or nationality.

Our governments tighten security, planning their responses to these atrocities; some individuals burn for revenge and retaliation, even against the innocent. Most simply wish we could find a way for the world to live in peace and feel too small on the global stage to affect the outcome of events. Yet peace has to begin somewhere and it can only begin in the hearts and minds of individuals. For that we are each responsible.

Nous sommes Paris. We are Paris. We are everywhere that is touched by violence, terror and extremism. We are of a single global family and every killing is fratricide.

‘In this climate of terror, it is important that we (…) speak out and remain united in the face of this horror that has neither colour not religion. Let us defend together love, respect and peace.’ Lassana Diarra, footballer, whose cousin was amongst the slain.


20 thoughts on “Nous sommes Paris

  1. I have been to France, passing through, as it were, never to Patis, but I ahree that to be held in contemp by oneor teo extremists, Jihadist, in todays modern siciety is utterly reprehensible in every way. What real purpose do actions like this solve for these people? Innicents, families? All it does is bring workd condemnation on their religion and actions. I do not understand how murdering, and yes, it is MURDER, can be called helping the Faithful?????
    Ps I shall reblog.


    1. It saddens me how many people want to lump the adherents of an entire faith together instead of seeing that most are just normal, decent people with hopes, fears and families. Only a few commit murderous acts such as these… and there are killers and psychopaths of every race, colour and creed.


  2. I’ve been pondering what to say here since I read it this morning. I think what confuses me is the huge outpouring of condemnation and blame about what happened in Paris when there is silence about events in other places – Beirut for one, Afghanistan for another. This week my friend Jawad sent me a set of photos of a massive demonstration of around 10,000 in Kabul following the beheading of seven Hazara people, including women and a child. The only good thing is that amongst those 10,000 people were Tajiks and Uzbeks and ther ethinc groups coming together in solidarity against the massacres of Hazaras. In Quetta, in Pakistan, Hazaras who came as refugees from Afghanistan are killed every week. I used to post on FB about it but no one ever commented. Murdered Muslims in far off places don’t seem to register in the way dead Parisians do.
    The perpetrators carrying out these atrocities in Paaris, Beirut, Afghanistan… are not true followers of Islam. They have distorted what is true and good about a faith followed by millions who are repulsed by what is happening in the name of their religion. And I am afraid because so many in the west do not seem able to make the distinction.
    And really, after thinking about this all day I still don’t know quite how to say what I want to say.


    1. Neither did I, Mary. You are quite right… there have been appalling things done across the globe but little is said and there is no outcry, perhaps because there seems to be a ‘them and us’ mentality that draws a distinction between somewhere like Paris that we can relate to as ‘home’, even if we have never set foot there, and the far-flung corners of the world where few have a frame of reference and it seems remote enough from our daily lives to be unreal… As if those lives have somehow less relevance.
      I don’t think it is an uncaring attitude for the most part… though not always… and sadly the less we seem to care, the more we play into the hands of those for whom murder seems a way of life. I think too we are fed by the news what seems most politic for us to hear, depending on what our governments’ attitudes might be.
      France doesn’t have the best track record with her Muslim community. The same can be said of most countries and their minority populations through history, but a backlash of anger and hatred from atrocities such as this can only serve to increase the divisions.
      I do not have the intimate knowledge of the people that you do, but I spent much of my time in Paris within the Algerian Muslim community there, having some of my closest friends and happiest times amongst them. Back in England, I taught English to Muslim women in their homes; their welcome, laughter and kindness are second to none. While it is true that there are passages that can be used to incite violence within the sacred texts of Islam, exactly the same can be said of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament (and Christianity has always had its extremists and a violent record) it depends upon the slant the reader wants to take and the context in which it is used. I’m not your traditional Christian either, but I can’t help thinking of that passage where Jesus suggests that he who is without guilt cast the first stone…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I so agree with your comment about casting the first stone – unfortunately I fear more people, in times like these, tend to go for the eye for an eye quotation. But, there I am, casting stones and judging others!

        You are also right about us being fed the news our governments most want us to hear. Possibly they don’t want us to know that 10,000 muslims took to the streets of Kabul shouting ‘We want Peace’ and ‘Death to Taliban and Isis’. While I don’t agree with any death slogans the fact that Afghans are demanding peace gives me hope.

        We all have to have hope… I don’t know where I read this – on someone’s blog or FB – but it was saying when there is any disaster we should look for the helpers – and that rang true for me becasue there are always people who will come forward to help and they outnumber the destroyers.


        1. … and they go for the Old Testament version, not the New that teaches to turn the other cheek…

          It would be somewhat inconvenient to know that we ignore the cries for peace… or drop bombs instead.

          Yes, we have to hope, and take responsibility for our won thoughts and actions. Alone they make little difference, perhaps, together they could change the world.
          I read about looking for the Helpers too, on Trent’s blog today.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope your loved ones and friends are safe! It is clear that ISIL has come to Europe and with the huge influx of Muslims this past year, the situation may not be confined to France. I prayed a silent prayer Friday, late into the night, that this was not a harbinger of worse to come.


    1. Sadly, I imagine there will be other attacks, Noelle. It is far from the first.The majority of the Muslims seeking refuge here are fleeing this themselves and perhaps after Friday we can understand more clearly why.


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