Today French citizens stood side by side to mourn the 130 dead from the horrific attacks on Paris two weeks ago, on Friday the 13th November. Who would have thought that this memorial would be necessary a few short weeks ago?
The world is still reeling from the attacks that took place in the centre of a city, so vibrant and innocently unaware of what was about to take place. Who could have foreseen the carnage that was planned on an ordinary Friday night, the beginning of the weekend for most Parisiennes and the devastation it would cause?
It was one of those occasions when you will always remember where you were when you heard the terrible news. Me, I had just been to a Christmas party plan event in Woking and came back to watch Children in need on the TV. I was alone because my partner was on nightshift and was enjoying the sketches on the BBC program. I did my donation online, then as I was pottering about on my iPad, as I usually do in the evening, I saw a post on Facebook. Something about an atrocity that had happened. I immediately turned the TV over to Sky news, to be met with a scene that was still unfolding. This was about 10.30 UK time, so an hour later in Paris. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, even though the same scenes were being played over and over. At that time, there were reports of people being held hostage in a club. They said there were over a hundred in there. I don’t know why but I thought that they were just being held hostage and that nothing else would happen. There would be a stand off and the police or special forces would flush them out like they often do.
What happened next really shocked me, as the rest of the world. In front of my eyes, special forces were scaling the walls of the building, amid the deafening sound of gunfire. I couldn’t bear to think that inside that building people were actually being gunned down mercilessly. But they were. I watched until 1am but had to go to bed, otherwise I would have been up all night. It was the first thing on my mind when I woke and I really hoped it wasn’t true. But I turned on the TV again and in the cold light of day, it all became appallingly true.
The club Bataclan was where the most people died -89 young people. There were also attacks on the Stade de France, where Francois Hollande was attending a friendly football match. Luckily the terrorists didn’t gain entry but instead, two of them blew themselves up with subside belts. Also, there were attacks on diners in popular areas with Parisiennes, who were also gunned down with precision according to witnesses. This was no random attack; it was well planned. And who claimed responsibility next day? Why ISIS, of course. Mr Hollande immediately declared war and in retaliation sent his planes over to Syria to bomb ISIS headquarters. I’m not sure if this was a good idea or not, but I can understand his reasons.
The whole world wanting to show its support, did in ways unprecedented before. The Sydney opera house displayed it’s famous sails in the tricolour of France, swiftly followed by other worldwide monuments. On Facebook on the Saturday, an app appeared where you could change your profile photo to the tricolour as well. The world grieved alongside France, appalled at what had happen, secretly worried that it could happen in their own back yard.