ISIS, also known as Islamic State, IS, ISIL, or even Daesh, is a terrorist group based in Iraq and Syria. The group has seized land, organised terror attacks, and kidnapped and beheaded a number of Western hostages. Their aim, it would seem, is to instil fear into the west, to undermine our way of life, and to ensure that Sharia law and the Islamic ideals are followed throughout the world.
It is important to note that these are not the thoughts and wishes of the vast majority of Muslims across the globe. However, it is frightening to think that such a small percentage of people can have such a devastating impact on the usual way of life of the majority.
That way of life has been particularly impacted in France, where the terrorist attacks by ISIS have killed large numbers of people and shocked the rest of the world.
Perhaps the attack that sticks in the mind most, and the one that is recalled when anyone is asked about ISIS terror attacks in France, is that of the Friday 13th November 2015. Known as the Bataclan Attacks after the music venue in which 89 people were murdered and 368 people were injured whilst being held hostage, these attacks in Paris were shocking and disturbing in their suddenness and their intensity. The attacks – which included various other cafes and restaurants as well as the Bataclan itself – ended the lives of 130 people in total. The bombs were set off by suicide bombers, seven of whom died along with the innocent concert-goers and the people who had simply gone out that evening for a cup of coffee or a meal with friends or loved ones. Authorities say that these attacks were the deadliest to take place in France since the Second World War.
Je Suis Charlie
Other recent attacks include the terrible Charlie Hebdo murders. On 7th January 2015, two gunmen forced their way into the offices of the satirical newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, and killed 12 writers, artists and other employees. Another 12 were injured. At almost the same time, a kosher supermarket was attacked as well as three other targets. A total of 17 people were killed that day. The world stood united with France, and cries of je suis Charlie were everywhere, particularly on social media.
But are we all Charlie? Or is there something unique about France that means these atrocities seem to happen there more than anywhere else?
Paris – and France in general – is a beacon of freedom and culture. It is completely free, with freedom of speech being at the pinnacle of ideologies within the country. There is nothing that France treasures more than this, and hitting at the heart of this freedom, stopping people from enjoying the culture and the lifestyle that they are only able to have due to their perceived freedom, is something that ISIS terrorists must find important. To undermine this, to destroy the freedom of France, to hit out at the capital city of such a country, has to be one of the main goals of such a backward thinking, small minded, and dangerous terrorist group.
France is also where some of the greatest thinkers and philosophers in the world came from, or made their home. These are the innovators who made freedom of thought and deed so important – and so natural. Surely, if France produced these free thinkers once, they can (and will) do it again. This idea may have prompted ISIS to attack.
Syria vs France
Another reason for France to be singled out to be attacked in this way is that its government has a very specific and hard hitting policy within Syria – more so than any other European country. France’s aim within the region is to remove President Bashar al-Assad from power, and it has launched numerous airstrikes against the country. So were these terror attacks ‘simply’ retribution against the attacks made on Syria?
Or finally, and perhaps most frightening of all, is France such a target because of where it is situated? Is it easier to reach, easier to get to, than anywhere else (such as London, for example) and therefore easier to infiltrate and destroy?
If so, it may just be a matter of poor luck that has meant France has had to face such heart breaking tragedies. And it may mean that there are many more to come.