(On last Friday night, Paris, the cultural center of Europe, was shaken by gunfire and suicide bombings of massive brutality at several locations. Officials confirmed that three teams of Islamic State attackers with assault rifles and suicide vests carried out the coordinated carnage. After the attack I followed the social and electronic media and saw how the whole world reacted to this incident. Bangladesh has also seen religiously motivated attacks on secular bloggers in the last few years. This write-up is about comparing how differently we and the French chose to react to these crimes.)
After the attack, I didn't see the French government blaming the youth for celebrating a Friday night. I didn't see the French intellectuals/journalists writing pages after pages of narratives explaining why the deceased have brought this fate upon themselves. What I saw is a whole nation in solidarity, a whole nation standing beside one another to overcome the grief, the loss and finding the courage to live another day.
I have just read a story where a man was shot during the attack and some other random person helped him back to safety. He wasn't left alone to die, he didn't even have to scream for help and watch his photos being taken by people around him. The attackers were killing people but they couldn’t shoot down the humanity within those people.
I didn't see the Government trying to brush aside the attack as a mere ‘isolated incident’. Even in this state of emergency, French president Francois Hollande held a press conference near the Bataclan concert hall. He didn’t choose to remain silent, because this is not what a leader should do. No doubt, this brutal crime is as sensitive issue as it gets, but that didn’t stop the President from expressing his feelings. His vow to be merciless in defending his country may even angered the perpetrators and their abettors more, but what else could he do? That’s what you do, you don’t bow down and you don’t negotiate with the murderers. You don’t advise your people to stop ‘provoking’ the terrorists. The French citizens are also not trying in any way to indicate that both the murdered and the murderers are equally guilty, because it doesn’t make sense.
The victims were mostly young people, but no one was saying that may be they shouldn’t have gone outside. Because the French know where the essence of the city lies. It’s the freedom of celebration or freedom of youth that’s keeping the city alive and joyful. No one in their right mind would want to suppress it because a city without the life and colors of youth may as well be dead.
I saw how the police and authority risked their own lives to deal with the situation. I saw Parisians waiting for hours to get a chance for donating blood to the victims of this attack. I saw an unnamed person paying tribute to the dead by playing John Lenon’s ‘Imagine’ on piano outside the concert hall. His words may have failed him, but his humanity didn’t.
This is how you deal with extremism, you don't validate it. You don’t back down in fear that you may be the next in line. You don't want to ignore it hoping that somehow it will leave you harmless in its path of destruction. Because it won't. Trust me, I have learnt from history. I know you like to blame the victims because it makes you feel safer, but be sure that no one is an angel. If somebody wants to kill you or me, they would find a thousand reasons to do so.
So, if you don't value the death of your own countrymen, you sure as hell should not comment about how the world chose to mourn the death of other people. And don't try to preach about how we don't care about the death of people dying in Middle East. We do and we've been trying to wake you up to what's been going on in those countries for ages. These deaths are not your trump cards to throw around in hopes of winning arguments.
It's time you acknowledged the elephant in the room.
(Image Source: The Guardian, taken by Christian, Hartmann/Reuters)