November 13th, 2015, marks “the worst terrorist attack in Europe in 11 years.” This attack, conducted by ISIS, killed over 129 men and women and injured more than 350 people, 99 of which are in critical condition. There were six attack locations, with most deaths occurring at the Bataclan concert hall (89 dead) and other smaller attacks happening at a stadium and various restaurants and bars. These victims are from around the world. Britain, Spain, Belgium, Sweden, Romania, Tunisia, Portugal, and the United States all lost people in the attack last night. Nohemi Gonzalez, a 23-year-old California State University student, is the only American death reported at this time.
Last night, the situation in Paris was one of pure terror and chaos. Le Monde, a French newspaper, released this description from an eyewitness:
“Everyone ducked and was walking on everyone else after the gunshots. The stage collapsed because there were so many people. Then 20 or 30 shots were fired; they were firing without purpose. I saw assault rifles. I walked on bodies. There was blood. In the street there were dead people.”
Benamin Cazenoves released on Twitter:
“I am still at the Bataclan. First floor. Gravely injured. They should storm the place as soon as possible. They are survivors inside. They are killing everyone. One by one. On the first floor, quick!!!!”
Jean Pierre ate dinner at a restaurant next to La Belle Equipe, an attack location, with his two children:
“I’ll never forget… Never understand what I saw. BOOM. BOOM. BOOM. There were shots coming in all directions. We ran to the back of the restaurant. Everyone took cover in the back on the floor. What I saw was absolute carnage.”
Once there were no more shots, Jean Pierre and his son went into the street.
“There was crying and screaming. I [Jean Pierre] saw people die. I saw people die. I had people die in my arms. There wasn’t anything you could do to help them. I’ve worked in hospitals. Last evening, I saw people. Children, kids, 17-18 years old. There was a dozen, nearly two dozen dead. Dead and dying.
I took one in my arms, held her telling her ‘Don’t move. Don’t move.’ But there wasn’t anything you could do.”
Police took control of the area shortly after the attack. Pierre will never forget what he saw upon walking back into the restaurant.
“I went into the restaurant and I can never forget what I saw. I will never understand, never comprehend what I saw. I can’t. I saw people seated in the restaurant. Dead. Some were holding onto a glass. Others were slumped forward on the tables, like they were sleeping. I have medical training. I’ve spend my life accustomed to blood, to wounds; But…”
November 13th was a night from hell. Three teams of attackers wrecked havoc in Paris – leaving terror, fear, confusion, and anger in their wake.
Today, President Hollande closed French borders and declared a continued state of emergency for the country. At least one bomber was a young Frenchman with ties to Islamic extremism and other attackers were found with fake Syrian and Egyptian passports. Eight attackers have been killed thus far and further police search efforts are being made. This attack, along with the Russian airliner that was shot down in Egypt, shows an “escalation of capabilities” for ISIS. This escalation is causing many concerns over where ISIS may strike next.
ISIS claimed that this Paris attack is the “first of the storm” in regard to attacks on western countries, citizens, and values. President Obama released a statement in support of France last night, but no further developments have been made in how to handle the ISIS threat. While ISIS claims to have carried out these attacks, it is important to remember that those who join the Islamic State are not representative of all Muslims or of the Islamic faith. It is in times like these that we – students of different religions, ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures – need to unite in the face of adversity and unjust violence. The University of Virginia mission statement reads:
The University of Virginia is a public institution of higher learning guided by a founding vision of discovery, innovation, and development of the full potential of talented students from all walks of life. It serves the Commonwealth of Virginia, the nation, and the world by developing responsible citizen leaders and professionals; advancing, preserving, and disseminating knowledge; and providing world-class patient care.
We are defined by:
Our enduring commitment to a vibrant and unique residential learning environment marked by the free and collegial exchange of ideas;
Our unwavering support of a collaborative, diverse community bound together by distinctive foundational values of honor, integrity, trust, and respect;
Our universal dedication to excellence and affordable access.
While attending U.Va., it is easy to forget that a world outside of Charlottesville exists. Life often takes place in a small bubble – extending from the Corner to central grounds. However, you can make a difference in this community: show compassion to those who need it, strive to educate yourself and those around you, and respect all people – even if they look, think, or believe differently than you.
Terrorists want to divide societies, cause fear and hatred, and psychologically impact their victims. Do not let them succeed. Stay united, be compassionate – not hateful, and continue to keep thinking about, listening to, and critically watching the world around you with an open mind.
The Eiffel Tower remains dark tonight in honor of those lost during last night’s attacks. As France mourns, the rest of the world mourns with her. Friends of France are lighting up the sky in blue, white, and red in support of France and her age of values of freedom, justice, and liberty. As France stood with the United States during 9/11, we will stand with France during her time of need.
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Mackenzie Swan, Staff Writer