Friday, Nov. 13 will forever be a day of remembrance in France. A soccer match, restaurants, a bar and a concert venue became the scenes of horror, bringing terror to the heart of the “City of Love.”
At 9:20 p.m. local time, the first of three bombs detonated at the France-Germany soccer game outside of Paris. By 10 p.m., over 120 people were killed. By midnight, French President François Hollande declared a state of emergency, enforced the first mandatory curfew since World War II and closed the nation’s borders. Paris, the City of Lights, went dark as the Louvre and Eiffel Tower were evacuated, public transportation was shut down, and the people were asked to stay indoors.
Almost immediately, the French military launched air strikes on Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS is headquartered. Hollande vowed France will stand strong and their fight will be merciless.
ORU men’s soccer players and French natives Alexis Derennes and Baptiste Vandeputte heard of the attacks from their teammates. Both were able to contact their families to ensure everyone was okay. Both live in Lorient, France, roughly six hours from Paris. Neither have been home since August.
“Even six hours away we are afraid,” said Derennes. “My friends sound scared because [the government] said, ‘Stay in your homes.’ It’s hard for me.”
This is the second time this year Paris has been attacked by Muslim extremists. In January, the satirical magazine “Charlie Hebdo” was bombed after publishing a cartoon of Muhammad on the magazine cover. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the January bombing, but ISIS claimed responsibility for Friday’s attacks.
“A lot of people say the goal of the attackers was to exclude the Muslim population from the Christian population,” said Vandeputte.
“[But] Muslims are not terrorists,” said Derennes. “Being terrorist is not a religion; it’s just a way to think, and it’s not a good way.”
Echoing their sentiments, President Hollande addressed the French people encouraging them to remain strong amidst fear and trust the security of the nation will be defended.
“We are not committed to a war of civilizations, because these assassins don’t represent any civilization,” Hollande said in a joint session of parliament Monday. “We are in a war against terrorism, jihadism, which threatens the whole world.”
Sophomore biblical literature major Sarah Rojas was touched by the attacks when she learned of the death of her friend Nohemi Gonzalez, an American exchange student killed in the Paris attacks.
“I didn’t even know about the Paris attacks until maybe Friday night after everything happened and then found out the next day or so that happened [to Gonzalez],” said Rojas. “My friends who were closer with her, they are really shaken up.”
Rojas is from the Los Angeles area, and her community has come together since the attacks.
“It’s amazing how even in times of trouble we all come together in a community, and God can use that to bring us back,” said Rojas.
After three days of mourning, Paris began the healing process by lighting the Eiffel Tower blue, white and red in honor of those who lost their lives. Parisians also came together by opening their homes to those stranded by the attacks using the #PorteOuverte.