On Friday, Nov. 13, the City of Light went dark as a series of coordinated terrorist attacks struck Paris, France.
The first attack began at 9:20 Central Standard Time, as three men in suicide vests detonated bombs outside of the Stade de France.
The next attacks occurred at multiple restaurants, diners, and bars around Paris, killing approximately 40 people.
The largest attack that night occurred at 9:40 in the Bataclan Concert Hall.
As the Eagles of Death Metal were playing in the 1500-seat hall, attackers barged in and began opening fire on the venue. The assault left 89 people dead and 99 others in critical condition.
The final death toll for the attacks was 130 with 367 injured. Out of the 11 attackers responsible for that night, only two remain alive, but authorities have been unable to capture them.
These attacks, which have been claimed by the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group, are viewed as an “act of war” by French President Francois Hollande. This has led to a state of emergency throughout France and a tightening of border controls.
“The state has increased their security (in universities, schools, subway). Everyone is being more careful but we are all calm,” said Alexandra Basagoitia, a student at the Université Toulouse 1 Capitole. “When an event like this happens, French people stay united.”
The horror of the event has drawn support from people across the world.
Soon after the news of the attacks hit the United States, social media outlets began trending #prayforParis and filters of the French flag became available on Facebook so that users could change their profile pictures in support of the people of Paris. Facebook even created a “Safety Check” that allowed Parisians to check in with their families to notify them that they were safe.
However, along with the overwhelming support for Paris came an overwhelming sense of worry about the safety of other cities and nations.
“Like many people, I was shocked and horrified as I read the unfolding story of the Paris attacks. I shared the sense of unease that others had about whether more attacks were forthcoming,” Dr. David Holcomb, a history and political science professor, said.
In response to the attacks France has mobilized 115,000 security forces, carried out various raids, and conducted air strikes in Syria in an attempt to target the Islamic State. President Hollande has also called for constitutional amendments that would make responding to terrorist attacks easier.
“I believe French society will engage in an ongoing debate (as the US did after 9-11) about the proper balance between liberty and security,” Holcomb said.
“Those on the right end of the French political spectrum have stoked nationalist and anti-immigrant passions, while others have called for a closer scrutiny of French domestic and foreign policies that might foster radicalization of some youth in France and Belgium.”
The attacks have led to mixed feelings about accepting Syrian refugees as many worry that militants could infiltrate various nations by pretending to be refugees. But President Hollande still plans on accepting the 30,000 refugees France committed to taking in.
He has also met with President Obama about forming an international coalition between the US, Russia, and France in order to fight the Islamic State. Obama responded by saying that the United States stands in “total solidarity” with France against ISIS.
But because Obama did not mention making any major changes in the US strategy towards the terrorist organization, Hollande plans to increase the amount of airstrikes on Syria and Iraq. However, he says that ground troops are not an option.
“French President Hollande has already stepped up French military actions against ISIS. This has led to greater pressure from some quarters of the US to reconsider its policies in the Middle East,” Holcomb said.
The battle against ISIS is only just beginning for France, but President Hollande wants to do everything he can to protect his country.
“The French motto is ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ (liberty, equality, fraternity) and we take it very seriously,” Basagoitia said. “I feel that many have seen those attacks as a violation of our liberty.”