Friday, 13 May 2016 09:31

Where were you...during the Paris attacks?

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Where were youparis attacks
Photo: Jorbasa Fotografie (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-ND 2.0

One year ago on the 13th of November 2015 Paris and the whole world was disaster-struck. Today we want to remember this terrifying incident and its 129 victims by sharing our stories of how we learned about the attacks and how we experienced the night and days afterwards. Regardless of nationality, gender, ethnicity or age everyone was affected by the terroristic events one way or another and everyone has a unique memory of that day that should be heard. We believe that despite the horros our solidarity, strength and togetherness should not vanish into oblivion but instead be remembered and shared to overcome hate, stereotypes and extremism.  

Sam, Diaphragm editor and Project Manager

sam"I remember feeling grimly compelled to follow the news for a while."

I wasn't anywhere exciting when news of last November's Paris attacks began to filter across the internet. No, I was perched on the corner of the sofa in my family home, having wolfed down a takeaway, during what I remember as an exceedingly busy period of temporary work. I was flicking through Twitter, half-paying attention to the various international football matches taking place that night. (Including, of course, the game between France and Germany at the Stade de France.
This, I think, was quite appropriate, with the attacks in Paris perhaps the first acts of terror, at least in the Western world, to dominate social media. Facebook's 'I'm Safe' feature came into its own; I was frankly surprised by the number of friends and acquaintances I had in Paris. Twitter was as I'm sure you remember abuzz with expressions of shock, sadness, and sympathy (and an unfortunate amount of racism, too). Avatars were draped in the Tricolore and think-pieces were published thick and fast. Celebrities began to make reactionary pronouncements, and the ongoing political shift towards misguided nationalism and refugee panic accelerated.
I remember feeling grimly compelled to follow the news for a while, as if learning more about the tragedy might mitigate it, or quell the inevitable xenophobic panic that was palpable across social media. In truth though, the knee-jerk responses everywhere on the internet wore me down fast— adding frustration and a sense of online claustrophobia to sadness and worry about the violence and its victims.
In the end I retreated towards pop culture —my Netflix subscription and Parks and Recreation, to be exact— and tried to forget the horrors unfolding elsewhere. A day or so later I learnt that a cousin had been minutes from the Bataclan. Luck smiled for her, I guess, but sadly did not for others that night.


 Isabell, Sixth Sense and Legs editor


 "As horrible as the events might have been, we won’t let them win."

On the 13th of November 2015 I was in the Netherlands. I came to Tilburg to look for a room as I was starting my Master there a few months later. Very spontaneously I have found a couchsurfer who would host me during those days. I have never seen him before and it was my first night at his place. He was a student and lived in a small room in a student house in the centre of the city. Around midnight we prepared ourselves to go to bed. I slept on a mattress on the floor. As always I fell asleep quickly after my long journey to the Netherlands and the new impressions.
In the next morning I woke up before him. I wanted to check my Facebook profile in the hope that someone replied to my search request for a room. Instead my timeline was full of headlines about Paris. I couldn’t believe it. As I was sleeping the world has changed. I absorbed articles from many different sources, trying to distinguish between fact and fiction. Half an hour later my host awoke. I told him to check his social media channels.
Two weeks later I found myself at a concert in Paris. The venue was so full you could hardly move. People were dancing and partying. Against the wishes of my family I went to the concert which I had planned many weeks before and as I was there I felt the same consent from the people around me: As horrible as the events might have been, we won’t let them win, we won’t let them change who we are – young and free and without chains of fear and hate.


 Nicoletta, Baby and Legs editor


"I think European societies need to dig deeper and stop pushing the blame abroad."

On the 13th of November 2015 I was writing an essay at my parent’s house, until my father burst into my room with the news that Paris was under attack. I spent the rest of the evening and most days after pretty much glued to live reporting updates on what was happening. After the Beirut attacks that had happened two days’ prior, I felt overwhelmed. The incessant media coverage, the videos on social media, the heart-wrenching images of people running away from the Bataclan theatre seemed to be taking over the media, and a really dark week ensued. However, this really got me thinking and I began to be really interested in the representations of these attacks. Following the attacks, the media coverage began was adopting diminutive stereotypes of the European 'west' as under attack by the evil 'Islamic terrorist' in an attempt to make the unknown understandable. People began to take strong positions and dictate how people should be reacting to and feeling with regards to these attacks. It seemed to me however what was most striking is that the attackers did not even fit these "Islamic terrorist" stereotypes that were desperately being pushed on to them, and the one essential fact was being avoided at all costs: the attackers were 'Europeans'. I couldn’t help but think that instead of desperately trying to place what happened into previous frameworks why are we not focussing on what pushes young people today to such extremist measures? I think European societies need to dig deeper and stop pushing the blame abroad, and start understanding the complexities of the societies we live in today.


Victoria, Baby and Brain editor


"it was mixed with a sense of helplessness that, I think, most French people living away shared."

As a Parisian living away from home, it is strange to tell my experience of the attacks of last November. Unlike many of my friends and family, I wasn’t in Paris and thus rarely ever think of my own memory of that night. My personal experience is now mixed with images seen on TV, accounts heard on the radio as we were trying to understand what was happening back home, along with the memories of friends and acquaintances who were hiding in a building entrance or were lucky to change their plans for the night last minute.
I was having a drink with my sister and friends visiting from Paris when one of them received a call followed by a dozen texts asking if he was alright: his apartment in Paris is only a few minutes away from the Bataclan. It took us a moment to grasp the meaning of what was happening in Paris – although we wouldn’t realise the full scale of the attacks until much later – followed by a series of calls and texts making sure everyone we knew was safe. Luckily, that was the case, even if some of our friends were stuck, hiding in their apartments or in bars, only earshots away from gunfires. I distinctly remember feeling completely out of place in a pub filled with people enjoying their Friday night, drinking beer and listening to music; while we were only starting to realise the terror that a similar Friday night in Paris had turned into. On the bus back to my house and for the rest of the night, I remember a feeling of shock and incredulity as we were gradually hearing more details of the attacks. Then, and for the following days, it was mixed with a sense of helplessness that, I think, most French people living away shared. To a great extent, so did many Europeans who felt a connection to the victims, and the rest of the world who showed warming signs of solidarity. These are what I choose to remember, rather than the following debates and political exploitations of the events.

Last modified on Monday, 14 November 2016 11:04

If the Editorial team had an actual office it would have to stretch from the corner of Britain to the edges of Spain, Sweden, Germany and beyond. (With frequent trips to America too) .  The term 'from the editorial office' then, is very much a figure of speech. 

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