We´ll always have Paris (1): The official record

On 12 November 2015, two suicide bombers detonated explosives in Bourj el-Barajneh, a southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, that is inhabited mostly by Shia Muslims and is controlled by Hezbollah.

Reports of the number of deaths range from 37 to 41 to 43.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Two suicide bombings occurred in commercial district of the southern suburban Beirut area of Bourj el-Barajneh near the General Security Post in Hussaineya street, according to al-Manar television, an apparent known stronghold of the Shia Hezbollah.

The first bombing occurred outside a Shia mosque, while the second took place inside a nearby bakery before 18:00.

The second blast occurred about 20 metres away and five to seven minutes after the first one as passers-by tried to help the injured of the initial blast.

A potential third attacker was killed before exploding his vest.

He was found dead with his legs torn off but still wearing an explosives belt, according to an unnamed Lebanese security official.

An unnamed government employee speculated that he was killed by the second explosion due to his proximity to that blast.

Al Mayadeen also reported about the would-be bomber and showed a video of a bearded young man with an explosives belt.

Hezbollah’s Bilal Farhat said: “They targeted civilians, worshippers, unarmed people, women and elderly, they only targeted innocent people … [it was a] satanic, terrorist attack.”

Lebanese security forces and Hezbollah gunmen cordoned off the area.

The Health Ministry reported at least 43 people initial deaths with Health Minister Wael Abu Faour adding that 239 people were injured, but that the total casualty count was expected to rise due to some of the wounded people being in critical condition.

Lebanon’s International Red Cross and Red Crescent Society affiliate said that over 200 people were injured.

Hospitals in the area called for people to donate blood due to an unprecedented number of casualties.

Emergency services personnel asked by-standers to leave the area as they were hindering ambulances from ferrying the injured to medical institutions.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared a day of national mourning for 13 November.

He also said of the bombings that they were “unjustifiable,” while also calling for unity against “plans to create strife” in the country and that officials should overcome their differences.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah: “What happened here is a crime…this battle against terrorists will continue and it is a long war between us.

This terrorism does not differentiate between its victims.

If ISIS assumes that killing our men and women and children and burning our markets could weaken our determination, then they are mistaken.”

On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks—consisting of mass shootings, suicide bombings, and hostage-taking—occurred in Paris, France, and Saint-Denis, one of its northern suburbs.

Beginning at 21:16, six mass shootings in central Paris and three separate suicide bombings near the Stade de France occurred.

The deadliest attack was at the Bataclan theatre, where attackers took hostages and engaged in a stand-off with police which ended at 00:58 on 14 November.

The attackers killed, at last count, 129 victims, 89 of them at the Bataclan theatre.

A further 415 were admitted to hospital with injuries sustained in the attacks, including 80 people described as being seriously injured.

In addition to the victims, seven attackers died, and the authorities continued to search for any accomplices remaining at large.

France had been on high alert since the January 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 17 people, including civilians and police officers.

French President François Hollande announced a state of emergency, the first since the 2005 riots and placed temporary controls on the country’s borders.

On 14 November, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Their motive was retaliation for French involvement in the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi Civil War.

President Hollande said the attacks were organised from abroad by ISIL, “with internal help”, and described them as “an act of war”.

The attacks were the deadliest in France since the Second World War and the deadliest in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004.

France’s military has been involved in airstrikes in Iraq and Syria since 19 September 2014, known by the codename Operation Chammal.

In October 2015, France struck targets in Syria for the first time.

ISIL specifically mentioned the airstrikes when they claimed responsibility for the attacks.

France had been on high alert for terrorism since the Charlie Hebdo shooting and a series of related attacks in early January 2015.

France had also increased security in anticipation of the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, scheduled to be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015, and had restored border checks a week before the attacks.

The Charlie Hebdo shooting in January 2015 occurred in the 11th arrondissement (district) of the city, where the Bataclan theatre is situated.

France witnessed other, smaller, attacks throughout 2015, including the stabbing of three soldiers in Nice guarding a Jewish community centre in February; an attempt to blow up a factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier in June, resulting in the death of an employee; and a shooting and stabbing spree on a train in August.

Two Jewish brothers, Pascal and Joël Laloux, owned the Bataclan theatre for more than 40 years until they sold it in September 2015.

The venue had been threatened several times because of their public support of Israel.

In 2011, a group calling itself “Army of Islam” threatened the theatre because of this support.

ISIL and their branches claimed responsibility for numerous deadly attacks which took place in the weeks leading up to the attacks.

On 12 November 2015, twin suicide bombings took place in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 43 people.

On 31 October 2015, Metrojet Flight 9268, carrying mostly Russian passengers crashed in the Sinai Peninsula, Egypt, killing 224 people, for which ISIL’s Sinai branch claimed responsibility.

On the day of the attacks, ISIL’s lead executioner, Jihadi John, was killed by a US drone strike and ISIL lost control of Sinjar to Kurdish forces.

The Paris attacks happened on the first day of the Muslim lunar month of Safar, which in 2015 fell on 13 November.

Since the Islamic lunar calendar year is 11 to 12 days shorter than the solar year, Safar migrates throughout the seasons.

Safar has a religious significance within Islam, as it is named after Prophet Mohammed’s “ghazva” (religious raid) against the “infidel” at Safwan in 623.

Islamic State has referred to the Paris attacks as a “ghazva” (religious raid).

According to the Cambridge History of Islam, when performed within the context of Islamic warfare, a ghazva’s function is to weaken and demoralise an enemy in preparation for his eventual conquest and subjugation.

The hashtag #portesouvertes (“open doors”) was used by Parisians to offer shelter to those too afraid to travel.

As had been the case in January, the Place de la République became a focal point of mourning, memorial, and tributes.

An impromptu memorial also developed near the Bataclan theatre.

Yesterday, two days after the attacks, a memorial service was held at Notre Dame Cathedral, presided over by the Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, with several political and religious figures in attendance.

Muslim organisations in France, Union of Islamic Organisations of France and Les Fédérations Musulmanes, strongly condemned the attacks in Paris, denouncing them as “barbaric.”

The attacks affected business at high profile venues and shopping centres in Paris, and many Parisians were concerned the attacks might lead to a marginalisation of Muslims in the city.

In response to the attacks, France was put under a state of emergency for the first time since 2005, borders were temporarily closed, and 1,500 soldiers were called in to help the police maintain order in Paris.

The plan blanc (Île de France) and plan rouge (global), two contingency plans for times of emergency, were immediately activated.

According to some English-language sources, Paris declared its first curfew in 70 years.

Belgium tightened security along its border with France and increased security checks for people arriving from France.

All public schools and universities in Paris remained closed the next day.

Sports events in France for the weekend of 14–15 November were postponed or cancelled.

Disneyland Paris, which has operated every day since its opening in 1992, closed its parks as a mark of respect for those who died in the attacks.

The Eiffel Tower, a Paris landmark visited by 20,000 people a day, was closed indefinitely.

According to the New York Times, as of 14 November 2015:

“The capital is under a heavy police presence, and checks at France’s borders have been reinstated.

Air travel continues but with significant security-related delays.

Public protests—a constitutional right in France—are prohibited in Paris and some of the surrounding departments until Thursday.

Several bands due to play in Paris cancelled shows, including U2, Foo Fighters, Motorhead and Coldplay.

Schools with classes or activities, cultural places and other venues (the Eiffel Tower, movie theaters, Disneyland Paris, department stores) are closed.”

The day after the attacks, the French Air Force launched its largest airstrike of Opération Chammal, its bombing campaign against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, sending 12 planes, including 10 fighters, that dropped 20 bombs in training camps and ammunition facilities in Raqqa, the city where ISIL is based.

A modified version of the International Peace Symbol by London-based French graphic designer Jean Jullien, in which the centre fork was modified to resemble the Eiffel Tower, was widely spread.

The symbol was widely shared with the hashtags #PrayForParis, #PrayForFrance and #JeSuisParis.

Facebook reintroduced its safety check-in system so users in Paris could notify friends and family that they were safe.

Facebook also encouraged users to temporarily overlay a transparent image of the French flag to “support France and the people of Paris”.

In the wake of the attack, phrases such as “Je Suis Paris” and “We are all Parisians” appeared on news broadcasts and social media websites worldwide to show solidarity with the victims.

This was similar to the reactions after the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo shooting with the phrase “Je Suis Charlie” and reflects the historic phrases “Ich bin ein Berliner” in the 1961 Berlin crisis and the phrase “Tonight, we are all Americans” spoken on air by France 2 reporter Nicole Bacharan after the September 11 attacks.

French foreign exchange students gathered in Union Square in New York City where they lit candles and sang La Marseillaise.

Vigils took place in Sydney, Montreal, London, New York City and Glasgow, among others.

On 14 November, German pianist Davide Martello towed his grand piano by bike to the Bataclan theatre, where a reported 80 people had died in the attack.

There, he played John Lennon’s “Imagine” to a crowd gathered outside in tribute to the victims.

Martello is known for travelling around conflict zones to play the piano and previously performed at the sites of the Charlie Hebdo attacks.

Following the attacks, multiple landmark structures around the world were lit in the colours of the French flag, including the spire of One World Trade Center in New York City, the London Eye and Tower Bridge in London and the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai (one of the targets of the 2008 Mumbai attacks).

Various Muslim religious leaders and organisations from around the world condemned the attacks.

Some took to social media to say that the attacks went against the teachings of Islam.

Les Fédérations Musulmanes, a French Muslim federation, strongly condemned the attacks in Paris denouncing it as “abject barbarism.”

Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, issued a press release from London condemning the attack by expressing his heartfelt sympathies and condolences to the French nation.

He said that these attacks are against the teachings of the Quran.

The Muslim Council of Britain described the attacks as “horrific and abhorrent” and participated in one of the Trafalgar Square vigils.

The Council added that “There is nothing Islamic about such people and their actions are evil, and outside the boundaries set by our faith …there is no justification for such carnage whatsoever.”

The Association of British Muslims said that “The Muslim faith condemns such acts of violence.”

“The attacks in Paris were not aimed just at France or Paris, they are attacks against the values and freedoms we cherish and live by in Europe, they were aimed at all of us.”

All that is written above comes from Internet sources.

What follows in the next post are my thoughts…


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