Terrorist Attacks: the United Kingdom Supports France

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Le 7, 8, et 9 janvier 2015, la France fut la cible d’attentats terroristes revendiqués par des organisations islamistes et causant 17 morts en seulement. Dimanche 11 janvier 2015, une « marche républicaine » fut organisée à Paris, réunissant près d’1,5 millions de Français pour lutter contre cette barbarie. Lors de cet évènement, de nombreux chefs d’Etats étrangers se sont joints au mouvement, dont David Cameron, le Premier Ministre britannique.

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Already in the 1980s, the United Kingdom was the target of terrorist attacks, for example, that of Brighton by the Irish Republican Army in England in 1984 that targeted Margaret Thatcher and finally caused 5 dead and 31 wounded. But in the past few years most attacks were claimed by islamist terrorists.

On July 7th 2005, four explosions in public transports – three in the underground and one in a bus – hit London. The casualties of these attacks were 53 dead and 700 wounded. Two years later, on June 29th 2007, two car bombs were found in the capital. But not only London was the target of this type of attacks: the same year, a Jeep (full of gas and oil) pounced on the international airport in Glasgow. Since then, the United Kingdom has declared a state of maximum alert in the country.

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After France was hit by terrorist attacks, it is now high time for the UK to support France. David Cameron joined other world leaders at the “Unity Rally” in Paris after terrorist attacks.

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On Wednesday January 7th, two islamist extremists murdered 12 people in attacks in the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. The story went on when a police woman was shot by one of the assailants, Amedy Coulibaly. The three assailants took hostages in two locations. The police finally shot the three terrorists. 17 people died in these 3 days.

Mr Cameron posted on Twitter: “I have accepted President Hollande’s invitation to join the Unity Rally in Paris this Sunday- celebrating the values behind #CharlieHebdo”

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The terrorist attacks were seen as an attack on freedom of speech. Nonetheless, some people denounced the fact that “politicians draped themselves in the flag of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in response to the tragic murder of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, but quickly moved to stifle the same rights they claim to love” (The Guardian). For example, though it expressed solidarity with “defending freedom of the press”, Cameron’s government has shown a kind of disdain for press freedoms that is usually reserved for the most authoritarian regimes (the investigation of the Guardian for producing Pulitzer Price-winning journalism, or regularly social media users are a few examples).

But the debate about freedom of speech only goes so far. This was a political blow aimed at multicultural democracy. What happened in Paris this week was a political act. Terrorism is always a political act, or nearly always. France and Britain remain peaceful, prosperous and multicultural nations with relatively well integrated and secular Muslim minorities. In fact, one of the police officers killed in the attack was a Muslim. That model of democracy is exactly what came under attack.

To Juan Cole’s mind, the Charlie Attackers sought to “sharpen the contradictions” within Western society. To him, this attack wasn’t really motivated by religion, as he explained: “This horrific murder was not a pious protest against the defamation of a religious icon. It was an attempt to provoke European society into pogroms against French Muslims”. Those terrorists would manipulate religion in order to defend “political” values.

Théo PAPAZIAN & Jérémy UZAN

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