After the night of fury and chaos in Paris, the world is still dazed. It’s being reported that 129 people were murdered, but with many more still injured and in critical condition. President Francois Hollande called the attacks an “Act of war“. And although the French government has only just begun to identify the attackers (You can read the passport nationalities further down in the Reuters article) ISIS has already claimed responsibility for the attack. It is too early yet to know anything for sure.
This attack comes just months after the ruthless slaughter of the Charlie Hebdo office in France. Using the recent past as a guide, it is possible to make assumptions on the aftermath of the attack.
What was unique about the Charlie Hebdo attack was that since it specifically targeted the magazine, the event sparked a wave of free speech sentiment. But what was typical about it was the jailing of 69 people that spoke differently by the French government, most notably the French comedian Dieudonne. This was mostly ignored. Alongside of this came the rise in right-wing fascist activity in Europe, calling for the removal of Muslim immigrants. Of course a surge of Nationalism took place in many other groups as well.
After the Charlie Hebdo shooting several mosque attacks were also reported as a result. This could happen again, but more recently with the Paris attacks it was reported one of the shooters had a Syrian passport that came originally through Greece. With tensions already on the rise with the refugee crisis across Europe, we are likely to see increased hostility towards the immigrants, maybe even resulting in violence against the newcomers. It seems obvious to say, but there will be a surge in Islamophobia and xenophobia. We are likely to see people defending Muslims with phrases like “Not all Muslims are terrorists” and such, but there will of course people that are too driven by their emotions to listen.
As for foreign policy, the French people want justice. They may choose to have a more direct role in fighting ISIS, maybe even resulting in putting boots on the ground. With quotes from President Hollande such as “we will lead the fight, and it will be merciless,” after the “barbaric act” it certainly seems as if this is possible.
The event will be politicized, really for whatever reason it suites them for. Whether it be for increased gun control, tighter immigration laws, or increased defense spending, it will happen. Why? Because this offers people the best chance to get away with it, while emotions are running high. People will look away while politicians increase the violence against citizens in the Middle East or while they pass bills to take away freedom in the name of security. In fact Newt Gingrich has already come under scrutiny for his tweet after the attack:
Imagine a theater with 10 or 15 citizens with concealed carry permits. We live in an age when evil men have to be killed by good people
And also it is being speculated that the attack will reshape the U.S. Presidential election, with more emphasis being placed on foreign policy and national security.
The thing we cannot allow to happen, however, would be to let our anger run away from us. We cannot allow our freedom to be taken away in the name of security. We cannot allow the persecution and maltreatment of the Muslim people. We cannot allow violence to those seeking refuge, those practicing their faith, or those too heartbroken to react. We cannot allow ourselves to stoop to level of our attackers, become blind with emotion and let violence be responded with more violence. My deepest regrets to the people’s of France, the refugees, those practicing faith, and to everyone observing. It will be hard times ahead.