Killing the culture of living together

After ISIS’ terrorist attacks that shattered Paris and the whole world, the experiences and their affects have been discussed in a detailed way. Having worked as Turkey correspondent of Le Monde between 2004 and 2014, Guillaume Perrier reported the current situation in Paris for Agos.

“We are not afraid!” This is what France is trying to make itself believe standing on its shaking legs. This slogan, which came forth after the attacks against Charlie Hebdo and a kosher market in the east of Paris, reappeared in a poster that was put up on the walls of Bataclan concert hall, where 89 people were killed. This is the survival instinct… But the truth is that whole country began to tremble with fear after the attacks on November 13. Nevertheless, this is the expected reaction anyway.

France is in fear, because the attacks that targeted a concert hall and the terraces of cafes and restaurants hurt the country very deeply. By bringing the death to the most cosmopolite region of the capital, ISIS terrorist tried to kill simply one thing: the culture of living together. A joy that stems from the fact that whole world envies us… The culture of living together that defies communitarianism and built the foundation of French society…

ISIS’ attack amounts to attacking each house in France. Paris is like a town where everyone knows each other… A man whom you come across every morning might be the father of that kid who managed to escape from Bataclan. These terrorists ended lives with Kalashnikovs and shattered the illusion of a hedonist, careless and free youth. A generation between the ages of 20 and 40, who hasn’t experienced a war before, has to learn to live under the threat of attacks from now on.

Questions of the fragile France

Government’s pro-war rhetoric and the airstrikes on Raqqa couldn’t change anything. France is fragile, because, first of all, it participated in the attacks of the coalition against Iraq and Syria which embittered the war. Declaring a full-scale war against ISIS, France entered the minefield and this was jihadists’ intention in the first place. Airstrikes are not completely useless, but if your purpose is “to wipe the terror out”, no good can come of it. Our assessments after November 13 revealed that the choices of France and the contradictions of its diplomatic practices in Middle East should be questioned.

Moreover, the intelligence services of France should also be questioned. The country is on the ropes in the face of the image of France in the minds of the jihadists. Paris, in the statement that was made by ISIS which claimed the attacks, is identified as the capital of “corruption and perversion” and it has been the target of the extremists for over 20 years… An Algerian Islamist organization conducted a series of bombing attacks in the subway on 1995. Though the actors are El-Qaeda or ISIS now, nothing changed in principle. In 20 years, radical Islamism rooted in the places of worship, small towns and even at the center of Paris. The mosque on Jean-Pierre Timbaud Avenue, which is only a few blocks away from the bars and restaurants of the rich 11th arrondissement, is a notorious nest of salafis. After the death of 129 people, the government cannot continue to ignore these centers of extremists.

Obsession of “security”

French people, who became captivated by fear after the attacks, might unwillingly give up their freedoms which they have been cherishing greatly; they might abandon their disobedience and arrogant indifference in order to calm the people by providing security in public spaces. Hollande has chosen this path; he prolonged the state of emergency and promised a constitutional reform including a “citizenship act” in French style. Is this the solution? I doubt that. Restriction of freedom without providing security might lead a new war against terrorism; this is what happened after 9/11.

It seems that France is dragged into a game in which it can lose everything it has, because the social suspicion that emerged after the terrorist attacks might incite hatred and disintegration that have been haunting France for 30 years. In the local elections on December 6 and 13, we witnessed the rise of anti-Islamist and anti-immigrant National Front once again, which deceives more and more people every day by its fear-inciting rhetoric. Discrimination against Muslims might increase and ISIS is the one which would benefit from it the most. The confusion that is created by National Front and its simplistic solutions began to affect whole political system like a contagious disease. Now, even the leftist government talks about expatriation; this issue caused a scandal 20 years ago. There is no doubt that this is a shift of identity that might cause France to lose many things… Paris might end up losing its spirit and the murderers might triumph.  


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Guillaume Perrier