On Friday night, France was a victim of a series of terrorist attacks, killing at least 129 people.
The chosen locations are interesting, in the sense that the attacks were not on the really ‘glitzy’ and touristy parts of Paris. Instead, the bombers targeted places of leisure: a football stadium, a concert hall, and various restaurants and cafés.
What’s more, they chose a Friday night to commit these atrocities. Friday nights, in Western culture are typically known as the day, where one can ‘let down their hair’, ‘kick back and relax’ – or so to speak.
When I first heard about the attacks, I was scared for the people in Paris, some of them close friends of mine. I reassured myself that they were safe, luckily they were – for some, it was unfortunately not the case. Then I started to research the subject in more depth. When I had time to digest the unpleasant information, my initial fear and worry, soon turned into anger, as I realised that the attacks were not upon individual citizens, or on France as a state, but on the Western way of life.
France spread the famous words “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité”, and the spirit of revolution throughout Europe, after their own bloody battle for freedom in 1789. Many historians argue, that Europe as we know it today would not exist without the legacy that the French Revolution left behind. This may be a romantic vision of France’s impact on Europe, however, it still holds a special symbolic value in modern Europe, and Western culture. France is one of the first European countries where the people stood up for their rights, and fought for the many freedoms we enjoy today.
Given the terrorists’ choice of venues; the significance of Friday night in Western culture; and the symbolism of France in Europe, it is clear that the attackers wanted to hit the people of the Western hemisphere – or any other culture that shares the same freedoms – in the place where it hurts the most. That is our comfort zones, the places we feel happy in, and where we forget about the stress of everyday life. Whether that is whilst watching a football match, going to a concert or enjoying a meal and some drinks in the company of people we appreciate.
This feeling can, somewhat, be found in Bono’s comments on the Paris attacks, stating “This really is the first direct hit on music we’ve had in this so called war on terror”. Music holds a special place in every society, and the fact that IS defines concert-goers as ‘idolaters gathered in a party of perversity’, further enhances the idea that the main target here, was our culture.
Bono is not the only artist to have commented on the tragic events of Friday the 13th. Many opinions can be found on social media, and Madonna for instance made a touching speech during a concert on November 14th.