(Below, three followers of News-Decoder — in Paris, New York and Concepción, Chile — offer their thoughts following attacks in Paris that killed 129 people.)
Tiziana Barghini (New York)
It grieves me to see what happened in Paris. I feel very upset and disconcerted. I did not know any of the victims, but I could have easily known them. They do not look different from me, my immediate family or my best friends. I could have been in one of these places on a Friday night or it could have been one of my kids, one of my friends. It hurts to see so many lives taken away in such a brutal fashion.
Two very simple ideas cross my mind:
Stay out – Do not comment on things you do not know.
I was not in Paris. I do not know that much about the Islamic State. The things I can say are second- or third-hand at best. I should keep my mouth shut. What was it that Oscar Wilde said? “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and appear stupid than open it and remove all doubt.”
Do not give up – It seems natural to feel at risk, personally under threat. This happened with 9/11 in New York, with the London and the Madrid bombings. And it is happening again.
Still, I do not want to give up on my personal freedom. I do not want authorities to listen to my private phone calls, to read my emails, to enter my life. I do not want them to put me in long lines when I visit the State of Liberty. I do not want to trade my freedom for my security. I do not see much of a debate around this, and the lack of it scares me probably more than the bombs themselves.
Charlotte Crang (Paris)
Islamic State has said that France remains a top target. This new fear spoils the joy of being young in Paris, when previous generations would have had no fear of going out on a Friday night.
Youths might come to Paris because it is the birthplace of great ideas, debate and creativity, but because of the incident at Charlie Hebdo and the recent attacks, it is likely that people will be feeling less intellectually and physically free.
I instantly jumped to social media because I liked how it was used during the attacks, though the significance is nothing compared to the Arab Spring. #PorteOuverte and #RechercheParis appeared just when they were needed, and the idea of Facebook safety check always seemed a good one, but this was proven to me when my friends and I actually had to use it.
Christopher Alexander Gellert (Concepción, Chile)
In the escalating conflict between Western powers and Islamist militants, increasing resources and attention have been devoted to targeting Islamic State, assassinating its leaders, wiping out its troops — by any means necessary. And things continue to grow worse.
As someone who holds a deep love of French culture, for all its contradictions and shortcomings, and is disgusted by the cowardice and barbarism of the latest attacks, I wonder when the real work, the real fight will begin — when peace will be declared.
To eradicate the jihadists we must first have an honest conversation about our own illusions, find room for disagreeable truths and accept Islam as part of our cultures, not an alien in it. To offer a true alternative to the attack on our basic humanity and find real hope, we must start dismantling our myths — questioning them, living up to them.
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