France, and indeed the Western world have been left reeling after the sheer scale of the simultaneous and carefully orchestrated bombing and shootings across Paris.
As the death toll now sits at 130, as well as the eight suicide bombers, the torrid events of 13th November now represent the worst European attack since 2004 in Madrid.
The attacks have highlighted the huge doubts over Europe’s security forces to be able to prevent attacks of this nature, and the sheer size of the task of attempting to thwart the inevitable plans to kill innocent Europeans in every major city across the continent.
Since the Charlie Hebdo magazine satirised the Prophet Mohammed, prompting retribution to be dealt out in the only way these people seem to deem appropriate, Paris has been on the highest state of alert.
But it wasn’t enough, and it is now more alarmingly apparent than ever the size of the problem within France’s own borders, as the first attacker was identified as being a French national. The poor and deprived housing estates that surround Paris are a breeding ground for hatred and radicalism. Jihad is hugely appealing to disaffected young Muslims with no real future, no chance for employment and living in conditions that most of us would not wish on our worst enemy.
In excess of 500 French Muslims have made the trip to Syria to fight alongside Jihadists. This is a higher number than from any other Western country.
As French planes continue to bombard Syria and Iraq in collaboration with the US, it has merely served to make them IS target number one. Although it is unlikely that many of the innocent victims attending the concert, football match or restaurants that provided the destinations for these cowardly acts were directly involved in the decision to attack the Caliphate as it continues to try to spread its wings in order to eradicate anyone that doesn’t share the same, somewhat out-dated views the movement is committed to.
The targets were very soft, and the intentions were clear – try to kill as many people as possible and at random. While the Stade de France could rightly be assumed to be an obvious target, the three suicide bombers that blew themselves up at three different restaurants was not the norm. There’s not really a way of defending against that.
The worst attack came against young people attending a rock concert, having a bit of fun on Friday night. More than 80 of them will never come home from that concert hall, cited in a statement by IS as “Pagans” within the “capital of abomination and perversion”.
The Social Media Angle
As with a number of the attacks that have occurred in recent years, some social media users (admittedly not based in Europe) continue to ask questions about why Paris and other Western destinations receive so much media attention when they get attacked, in comparison with other destinations such a Beirut, Somalia, Syria itself or Iraq. Many choosing to state that they refuse to offer support until equal importance is placed on the terrorist atrocities inflicted in other countries across the world.
Paris, and indeed Europe, don’t control what the media choose to cover, and certainly the idea that anybody can dictate or offer a view on which atrocity deserves more interest by the world, at this time seems rather an odd angle. But nonetheless, as the President of France, François Hollande, declared the atrocities as an “act of war” and promised massive retaliation, most of the rest of Europe are not concerned by the views of these people, and are just very deeply saddened by the targeting of their most beloved cities, waiting for the next attack and hoping they won’t be around when it happens.