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Auē Tēnei Wiki: Paris, France

Sky Tower for France

Sky Tower in Auckland, NZ lit up in the colours of the tri-coleur last night in solidarity with France. (Source: www.stuff.co.nz)

What else? France has experienced their 9/11. The Friday 13th myth originated in France, and DAESH has made it a reality.

I was happily supermarket shopping on a beautiful sunny morning when the first of seven suicide bombers detonated his vest yesterday morning New Zealand time. I didn’t know what had happened until several hours later when I sat down to eat my lunch. I turned on the TV expecting to enjoy a current affairs show as I ate. There was no enjoyment, but I was riveted nevertheless and spent the next seven hours glued to the coverage.

While it was clearly terrorism, no group had claimed responsibility at that time, so I was in the dark as to the motive for the attacks. It was reported one survivor from the Bataclan concert hall had said a terrorist announced, “This is for Syria.” Another person reported a suicide bomber had said, “Allah u Akbar” before detonating his vest. Neither of these statements was confirmed by authorities then, so  I didn’t know what to think. In the absence of official information, people just make stuff up, and it’s hard to know what’s real.

There were reports that “The Jungle” (the camp where refugees and immigrants stay in Calais while trying to get across the channel to England) had been burned in retaliation, but that turned out to be a hoax. Photos that were produced were exactly the same as those taken in a riot months ago. I got caught out myself. I tweeted a comment someone sent me that Donald Trump had supposedly made, referring to France’s tough gun control laws. I didn’t check it out properly – he’d made the comment but it was in response to the Charlie Hebdo massacre, not yesterday’s horror. It was a really bad mistake too because the date was right there, and I just didn’t see it. Anyway, my wrong tweet was even reported in Mediate. They failed to note though that within a few minutes I tweeted that I’d mucked it up, and tweeted that confession again several times. I guess that part of the story didn’t fit their agenda.

Auckland City Museum Christ Loft Herald

Auckland City Museum was also lit in the colours of the French flag last night. (Source: Chris Louft/NZ Herald)

We know now that DAESH has claimed responsibility for the six separate incidents on Friday night French time. To the long lost of atrocities they have committed we can add:

129 confirmed dead
352 confirmed injured – 99 of them critically

I don’t know if the confirmed deaths include the eight terrorists that lost their lives, seven of them via suicide. Because of the brainwashing of fundamentalist Islam, they were surely convinced that their heinous actions would take them to Paradise and their victims to hell. If they accidentally killed an innocent, no matter – that person would go to Paradise too and be better off. The lives of these men were destroyed by whoever instilled this extreme version of Islam in them. They are victims too.

Kim Dotcom

Kim Dotcom proves once again he’s an a-hole. Any opportunity to get some attention, and he’s in. Surveillance MUST be done legally, and probably France wan’t doing enough.

There are still several perpetrators of these attacks out there, currently being sought by security services. One was arrested in Belgium after he crossed the border from France. I admit I’m worried about the ability of the French to catch them all. Paris was a city at the highest level of security alert, a week out from a major international conference, and still an extremely sophisticated and well coordinated series of attacks was able to be carried out. It seems French security was well and truly outsmarted.

President of France François Hollande has declared a state of emergency along with three days of national mourning. He has declared this an act of war and says France’s retribution will be “merciless.” The police and military are a presence on the streets of Paris, but the TVNZ Europe correspondent Emma Keeling says it’s nowhere near as strong as she thought it would be. Although things such as public monuments are closed, she says Parisians seem to be largely going about their business as usual. Hollande also said the borders were closed, but Keeling was able to enter the country on the Eurostar from London with no difficulty, and all airlines continue to operate.

François Hollande was attending the soccer friendly between France and Germany at the Stade de France, and would have heard the first two explosions of suicide bombers outside the stadium twenty minutes into the game (9.20 pm). One of the suicide bombers was found with a Syrian passport and Greece has since confirmed that he came through their borders as a refugee. Marine le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front, the third largest political party in France, has made the predictable response. According to Yahoo News:

“Islamist fundamentalism must be annihilated, France must ban Islamist organizations, close radical mosques and expel foreigners who preach hatred in our country as well as illegal migrants who have nothing to do here,” she said.

Unfortunately, there are going to be many who will focus on the small number of terrorists who have managed to get through and they will ignore the millions who are suffering. When are people going to work out that those running from Syria are trying to escape both their government and the terrorist organizations like DAESH that are operating there with impunity? Bashar al-Assad, President of Syria, has made a statement blaming France’s policies for what happened. Here he’s on the same side as the perpetrators in blaming the victims.

In the last 24 hours several people on Twitter have told me I need a gun to protect myself. (They weren’t making direct threats – they just erroneously believe a gun would make me safer.) I’ve also been sent links to articles that say things like the situation is going to get worse because Muslims in France are more devout than Catholics. (I kid you not.)

The French values of liberté, égalité, and fraternité (liberty, equality, fraternity) are the sort of values that we need to continue to promote. We cannot allow fear to rule our lives. However that is, of course, easier for me to say from a small town in a country that is way down on DAESH’s list of targets.

Liberation front cover 1

Libération is a major daily newspaper in Paris, better known as le Libé.  Tuer le Bonheur is the title of Sunday’s editorial. It means Killing the Happiness.

16 Responses to “Auē Tēnei Wiki: Paris, France”

  1. Ken says:

    So, we’re left with the usual question. Will we respond to violence with violence and ensure the cycle of violence spins ever onward? Hollende says yes.

    The despicable Ann Coulter says this will win the election for that bombastic idiot, Trump. She may be wrong in specific, but I fear she will be correct in degree.

    • Hollande was fighting for political survival before this happened, as I’m sure you know. He’ll be desperate to sound suitability hawkish in order to try and stop bleeding votes to Sarkozy and le Pen. The determinism not to lose power will squash any scruples he has about the merits of an OTT response.

      I can understand feeling the need to lash out at the perpetrators. Hollande, imo, needs to find the strength to lead in advocating for a more considered response. He’s so far failed in this regard. In reality all we can really hope for is that in the upcoming political battle, le Pen doesn’t gain more power.

  2. AU says:

    How do you know they were certain they will go to paradise because of this? You have secular suicide bombers, you have people who go around blowing up sh*t before killing themselves who do not think they will go to paradise, so it is entirely plausible some of these guys didn’t think they will go to paradise let alone ‘certainly’ think they will go to paradise, and they did it because of their anger at the injustices in the world, but New Atheism is a dishonest, bigoted ideology, and therefore New Atheism must ‘brainwash’ people that any act of violence carried out by a religious person must be blamed on religion.

    • Ken says:

      You’re question is a fair one. There are plenty of articles out there about Islamist fighters who’ve been interviewed and don’t seem to know much about Islam. I agree Heather shouldn’t make those claims with such certainty.

      Your characterisation of New Atheism is crap. We not long ago had a huge debate on this on these pages and it should be clear that not all NAs think alike.

      • AU says:

        Yes, I am well aware of that debate, considering I was the one who came here and said I agree with people like Glenn Greenwald and Neil Godfrey that New Atheism is like a cult.

        I am obviously talking about New Atheism the movement, and not New Atheism per se, because highlighting the wrongs being caused by religion and challenging religion when it tries to interfere in the public domain is something that is believed in by many people who specifically go out of their way to distance themselves from New Atheism – the movement.

        Now of course you might argue that not everyone within the New Atheist movement is the same – and you’d be absolutely right. However, until people from within the movement start challenging other New Atheists about their bigotry and how they generalise religious people, I don’t really feel too bad about generalising New Atheists.

        • Ken says:

          I’m unaware of NA the movement as different from NA per se, but whatever. I consider myself a NA and I have challenged Sam Harris and others directly as I’ve described elsewhere. I don’t intend to rehash the last debate again here.

    • As you know I am normally happy to admit it when I’ve gone wrong, or made an unwarranted assumption. In this case, I consider it naïve to say these terrorists had anything but the strongest belief in Paradise as taught by fundamentalist Islam.

      DAESH has taken responsibility for this attack, and cited Syria as the reason for their actions. There are many groups opposed to what’s happening in Syria – I am strongly opposed to al-Assad myself. Some of those groups are secular, some are religious. Not all the religious groups are Muslim, and not all the Muslim groups are extremist. DAESH is Islamist extremist. I accept that not all members are extremist – some didn’t have a choice but to join that particular group for location and family reasons, but those members are extremely unlikely to be trusted with such an important mission as this.

      The people who carried this attack out were extremely well trained and dedicated. It is unlikely in the extreme that those chosen for “martyr
      missions” in such circumstances didn’t have a strong belief in Paradise.

      • AU says:

        It isn’t anything but naive – the only fact we have at the moment is that we know very very little about who planned it and the background of the people who committed the atrocities. We can’t even be sure it was ISIS – we know that many terrorist groups like to claim responsibility for things they didn’t even do because they want to appear strong.

        This is why I say New Atheism is anti-intellectualism – because any intelligent person would say “until I have detailed information about the attackers and their background, I cannot form a reasonable conclusion about what they might or might not have been thinking”. Maybe the Syrian guy had his family blown to bits by an American jet and so he decided to join ISIS and wanted revenge – after all, one of the attackers shouted this is for Syria. Maybe he doesn’t really believe in religion, and all he cared about was revenge. This is a plausible theory, however, New Atheists have been brainwashed to such a degree that religion must be blamed on everything, that it impairs their rationality and causes them to act irrational and decree statements without even knowing the facts.

        • Ken says:

          What you see are common human failings that apply to both sides of the debate. Everyone has beliefs that they think the facts support, but which they hopefully learn don’t, where that turns out to be the case. We all like to hope we’re able to imply logic flawlessly, but it just isn’t true. Yes, some have more difficulties than others. Certainly Heather has shown she can change her mind based on new information.

  3. Coel says:

    Hi Heather,

    When are people going to work out that those running from Syria are trying to escape both their government and the terrorist organizations like DAESH that are operating there with impunity?

    Well, I think that people here have worked that out. It’s quite an obvious point. But it doesn’t change the basic issue, which is to what extent such immigrants will share basic Western values such as free speech and democracy? Afterall, they mostly come from societies that don’t have such things.

    It took Western Christians centuries to get used to the idea that people should be free to criticise and even insult Christianity; we can’t expect Muslim immigrants to pick up such attitudes overnight regarding Islam.

    As one incident, a mob of asylum seekers in Germany tried to lynch someone who had defaced a copy of the Koran. That’s hardly the attitude of people fleeing for their lives and only seeking peace.

    In a poll earlier this year (by ComRes for the BBC) 11 per cent of current British Muslims said that Charlie Hebdo deserved to be attacked for depicting Mohammed. A full 27% had “some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks”.

    There have been about a million claims for asylum in Europe this year. 11 per cent of a million is over 100,000 people who could be considered “extremists”, and a far larger number who don’t actually share Western values.

    Further, let’s consider the first- and second-generation children of those immigrants. Already, many hundreds of British-born Muslims have gone to join and fight for ISIS. How many of the children of those million immigrants will end up disaffected and radicalised? If it were 10% that would be a huge problem.

    So, while it is entirely true that the vast majority of such refugees will be peaceful and only seeking a quiet life, that doesn’t counter people’s legitimate concerns.

    • There are legitimate concerns, I agree, and we should acknowledge those. It has to be a multi-pronged approach and people on all sides have to be prepared to make an effort. Education is a key ingredient. Tolerance and acceptance of difference too.

      I think perhaps we shouldn’t call a commitment to freedom of speech a Western value. It originally was of course, but I wonder if calling it that now just gets people’s backs up. Besides, there are now plenty in the West who have an attitude that freedom of speech is OK for them, but anyone who doesn’t agree with them has to shut up. They’re less likely to get violent about it, but that seems to me more about access to an effective form of justice. If you look at who’s currently rioting in the US, for example, it’s those who feel unable to rely on the police or politicians. I know that’s a bit simplistic, but I’m sort of groping in the dark trying to think of things that might help in the future.

      Anti-racism is a fairly recent thing in the West, but Islam has always been pretty good at that (as long as people were fellow Muslims}. You can’t say the same about Christians. Many still look down on Christians in Africa, for example. That’s also a major generalization, but knowing that might help with acceptance too.

      Immigrants, wherever they come from, in whatever era, have tended to be marginalized, and therefore often have genuine grievances. That’s definitely the case in France, though that’s no excuse for murder of course. They always become a target in tough economic times, and we’re still emerging from the GFC. The problem is fundamentalist imams and political leaders taking advantage of that. We have to work at making sure everyone gets a fair shake, so there’s no grievance to be taken advantage of.

      As atheists we’re always going to have a problem with any fundamentalist religion. However, this is one area where we might be able to look to the US as a positive example. They have millions of fundamentalist Christians who say a lot of things any humanist, religious or not, finds offensive. Because of the way society is structured, they otherwise manage to rub along. Although there’s a new generation who seems to be struggling with the idea a bit (such as in Jerry’s post on Amherst this morning), the First Amendment to their constitution is sacrosanct to just about everybody.

  4. AU says:

    https://life.eui.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/OLIVIER-ROY-what-is-a-radical-islamist.pdf

    The religious dimension offers them a framework of personal re-structuration: the truth, the good, a clear set of norms, brothers in arms, a clear objective, and salvation, although the latter is not necessarily understood in terms of the paradise as described in the Koran. In fact few of them speak explicitly about paradise.
    The nihilist dimension (revenge, suicide) seems to supersede the utopian one (to build a new and just society).

    This would be consistent with the theory that a lot of these guys are not really thinking they will go to paradise if they die because they don’t have a very strong faith, and that it is more about finding a cause that gives meaning to their life – in these cases it was radical Islam, if they hadn’t found radical Islam it would probably have been some other gang.

    • Yeah, I think for some it would be some other gang. They’re looking for somewhere to belong, and DAESH offers them that. They’re all individuals, and all will have their own reasons. I stand by my contention that those that are prepared to be martyrdom bombers do have a belief in Paradise.

      As I’m sure you know better than me given that you’re a lot closer to the action, when there was a political settlement in Northern Ireland, many members of the IRA continued living the life of gangsters. For those who did that, the cause was an excuse. I think people like that are more likely to survive, and to leave the organisation too. They’re in it for themselves.

      • AU says:

        I stand by my contention that those that are prepared to be martyrdom bombers do have a belief in Paradise.

        That isn’t what you said. You said the following:

        Because of the brainwashing of fundamentalist Islam, they were surely convinced that their heinous actions would take them to Paradise and their victims to hell.

        Beliefs are not binary, you do not have to just believe in something or not believe in something. You can “probably” believe in something. You can “Er, yeah, I think so” believe in something. You can “possibly” believe in something.

        We know suicide attackers do not have to believe in an afterlife to commit suicide. The Kamikaze didn’t believe in an afterlife. Neither did the secular Palestinian bombers. I doubt many of the mass shooters who then kill themselves believe in an afterlife.

        From the article, most of these terrorists are not “religous” – they don’t talk about theology.

        Therefore, it is very possible that some of them didn’t certainly believe in an afterlife, that their reasons for joining were a feeling of belonging, that they found they had a purpose, and they killed themselves because of the purpose, just like mass shooters and Kamikaze did, and not because they believed they were going to paradise. They didn’t want to spend the rest of their life in a prison cell.

        Therefore, there is no evidence for your statement that they certainly believed they were going to paradise. There simply isn’t any proof, and the most amazing thing is, you made that statement before we even knew anything about them.

        New Atheists are supposed to be rational, the only rational conclusion we can come to is that we can only find out whether they believed they were going into paradise by blowing themselves up once we are able to study them more. To suggest we can be absolutely certain what they were thinking without any evidence whatsoever is irrational.

        • I don’t think beliefs are binary, and I’m perfectly aware that not all suicide bombers think they’re destined for an afterlife. I deliberately call these men “martyrdom” bombers. I concede I don’t know for sure what was in their minds. I cannot know, and nor can anyone else for sure. I do think that these particular men meet the “beyond reasonable doubt” criteria.

          • AU says:

            How do they meet the beyond reasonable doubt criteria?

            For that criteria to be met, you have to be able to show, in the absence of any statement of theirs

            1) That these men were very religious
            2) That their reason for joining was religious and not because of anything related to feeling part of a group

            There is no proof of either 1 or 2, so how on earth can you claim that it is beyond reasonable doubt that these men were not of the type that were filled with anger and wanted to kill as many people and then kill themselves instead of spend the resy of their life in a small cell?

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