Saturday, 14 November 2015


“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love.” - Francis of Assisi

On the evening of 13 November 2015, a series of coordinated terrorist attacks occurred in Paris and its northern suburb of Saint-Denis. The attacks consisted of mass shootings, suicide bombings, bombings, and hostage taking. Beginning at 21:16 CET, three separate explosions and six mass shootings occurred, including bombings near the Stade de France in Saint-Denis.

The deadliest attack was at the Bataclan theatre, where attackers took hostages and engaged in a standoff with police until it was ended at 00:58 14 November CET. At least 129 people were killed, 89 of them at the Bataclan theatre. 352 people were injured by the attacks, including 99 people described as being in a serious condition. In addition to the civilian casualties, eight attackers were killed and authorities continued to search for any accomplices that remained at large.

In a televised statement at 23:58 CET, French President François Hollande announced a state of emergency, the first state of emergency since the 2005 riots, and subsequently placed temporary controls on the country’s borders. According to some English-language sources, the first citywide curfew in Paris since 1944 was also put in place.

On 14 November, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to The Wall Street Journal, the attacks were motivated by ISIL as “retaliation” for the French role in the Syrian Civil War and Iraqi Civil War. Hollande also said the attacks were organised from abroad “by Daesh”, the Arabic acronym for ISIL, “with internal help”, and described them as “an act of war”.

The attacks were the deadliest to occur in France since the Second World War and the deadliest in the European Union since the Madrid train bombings in 2004. The attacks came just a day after an ISIL terrorist attack in Lebanon that killed 43 people and the killing of ISIL member “Jihadi John”; and 14 days after the crash of the Russian-chartered Metrojet Flight 9268, which killed 217 passengers and seven crew members, and for which ISIL’s Sinai branch claimed responsibility. Prior to the attack, France had been on high alert since the January 2015 attacks in Paris that killed 17 people, including civilians and police officers.

I cannot fathom the depth of the hate that has caused these attacks, nor am I naïve enough to believe that religious causes are at the bottom of it. Islam is a religion that has peace and submission to God as its cornerstone and tolerance towards other people is something that the Qur’an espouses:
“We have appointed a law and a practice for every one of you. Had God willed, He would have made you a single community, but He wanted to test you regarding what has come to you. So compete with each other in doing good. Every one of you will return to God and He will inform you regarding the things about which you differed.” (Surat al-Ma’ida, 48, the Holy Qur’an

Numerous families in France have been plunged into the blackest of despair and mourn loved ones. All people of all faiths around the world who love peace, freedom, equality and fraternity sympathise with the victims and their families. This tribute is especially for them.

Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem Op.48 with Paavo Jarvi, Orchestre de Paris, Chen Reiss, Matthias Coerne.


  1. I, like so many others, am stunned. There is both, so much, and so little, to say