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Italy – Emily Henderson

Image: Flickr.com

A sadness looms over Italy, as it does in most European countries this week. People are struggling to believe the brutality of Friday night’s events and fear similar attacks will happen here. The nation mourns for Valeria Solesin – the twenty-eight year old Italian researcher studying in Paris, who lost her life at the Bataclan theatre. Her face is splashed over every newspaper and all hourly news bulletins. “She represented the future of Europe, our future”, Matteo Renzi declared yesterday, promising that a grant or scholarship will be created in her memory.

Fear is beginning to stalk the streets. Evidence that one of the fleeing suspects’ cars entered Ventimiglia and crossed into Italy has put many a policeman on the streets of Turin and, while most don’t feel any imminent threat, many fear for national events set to take place in a matter of months. The Holy Jubilee of Mercy, beginning December the 8th in Rome, is particularly feared to be a target as it is predicted to attract attract over 30 million visitors and pilgrims, for instance. The terrorist alert has already been boosted to level two since Friday and security measures increased in Vatican City.

Fear is beginning to stalk the streets

Political tensions are also beginning to mount in wake of the attacks. The right wing newspaper Il Libero has been condemned for its front page headline “Bastard Muslims”, published on Saturday. “Libero, the real bastard is you”, one of many online journalists has rebutted, asking the journalists to put themselves in “the shoes of the perfectly innocent Muslim child who goes into class on Monday” to find the front page of this paper on their desk by “another classmate who doesn’t understand its gravity”. “Bastard Muslims”, the journalist argues, may be something we would expect to hear shouted at a stadium, but not written by a newspaper, an organ of information that should be serious, be independent and report the facts. Yet Roberto Manoni, leader of the Northern League, (a notoriously anti-immigrant, right wing party), proclaimed the article a “perfect summary” of the situation. Despite this, many are recognising and denouncing the use of the tragedy to inspire anti-immigrant, anti-Muslim sentiments.

The popular weekly talk show ‘Che tempo che fa’ broadcast a very moving monologue that celebrated the resilience of the citizens in Paris, and the heroic actions of all in reaction to the crisis, from old ladies welcoming teenagers into their houses, Parisians queuing to donate blood for the victims, and shopkeepers opening up the next day despite being very afraid.

A resilient spirit echoes here in Italy as it does abroad

“Resilience is a beautiful word: it means facing traumas in the most vital way and having the strength to reconstruct ourselves afterwards, however without forgetting the good things life offers us, and without losing our humanity”. / «Resilienza è una parola bellissima: vuol dire capacità di far fronte ai traumi in maniera vitale e forza di ricostruirsi, restando sensibili alle cose positive che la vita offre, senza perdere l’umanità»

A resilient spirit echoes here in Italy as it does abroad. The resilience to carry on and live life without succumbing to hate. The common view is precisely this – that hate and fear is exactly what ISIS want to provoke in Europe, therefore tolerance and peace is what we should strive for. I only hope people act on these words and fear does not win.

South Korea – Zeena Starbuck

Image: www.flickr.com

In the wake of the Paris Attacks, South Korean President Park Geun-Hye offered condolences, condemning the actions of ISIS. However, given the disconnect across continents, it is no surprise that the South Korean response has been quiet, with a clear divide between expats and domestics.

The Western expat community here has been reeling. The attacks have been central to conversations amongst international students at Ewha and online expat groups. A candlelit vigil was held outside the French embassy, with 276 RSVP-ing on Facebook, the majority of whom were expats or exchange students.

The Western expat community here has been reeling

However, this does not mirror the South Korean response. Politically, South Korea’s stance has not changed. While Park said the government will cooperate with the international community in supporting antiterrorism efforts, they are not participating in airstrikes and have not stated their support for the US-led coalition against ISIS, in contrast to their alignment with the 2003 ‘Coalition of the Willing’ in Iraq.

Furthermore, the press and the public in South Korea have been more focused on domestic issues. With recent governmental legislations introducing a government-written history textbook, and labour reforms leading to protests 80,000 strong in Seoul, public attention is on their own democratic deficit rather than ISIS. Korean ‘democracy’, currently ruled by the daughter of a dictator, is the larger threat to life here, and the public reaction reflects that.

Since ISIS is not perceived as posing any threat to South Korea, the attacks have not met the same response here as in Europe. Korea is a geographically isolated, largely homogenous society, which physically and culturally separates them from issues in the West and Middle East. Paris has not taken over the news cycle, nor has it taken over the Korean psyche.

Germany – Hannah Butler

Image: Wikimedia.org

“Paris changes everything.” This German response did the rounds pretty heavily at the weekend. Who said it? The Bavarian finance minister. And what did he mean? That the country should consider closing its borders. “It cannot be that we don’t know who is coming to Germany and what these people are doing here,” he stressed.

I guess that’s a big question now: should this tragedy impact Germany’s stance on the thousands of people seeking refuge here? Absolutely not, interior minister Thomas de Maizière said on Monday. With repeated attacks on refugee homes already shaking Germany, he warned the public not to “hurriedly create a link to the debate over the refugee issue.”

should this tragedy impact Germany’s stance on the thousands of people seeking refuge here?

Berlin has been on high alert this week. By Monday evening, we’d had eight separate bomb scares. All were false alarms, but it shows a city understandably on edge. Nonetheless, the overwhelming emotions are of sympathy and grief. On Monday, I travelled to Berlin’s Pariser Platz, as hundreds gathered before the French Embassy for a minute’s silence. A sea of flowers, candles, flags and messages lay across the pavement, growing larger by the minute.

I thought I’d end up interviewing people with loved ones in Paris but, in fact, no-one I spoke to had any such link. They were just German citizens who wanted to show their love and respect for those who died in the attacks.

The morning after the Paris attacks, Angela Merkel made a public address. “We, your German friends, are with you,” she told the French people. And from what I’ve seen so far in Berlin, that’s no empty promise.

The Netherlands – Luke Taylor

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister. Image: en.wikipedia.org

In the wake of the devastating attacks in Paris, the community of Holland has united in order to commemorate the lives lost. The response to the attack was widespread across Holland as a number of major cities held memorial gatherings in honour of the victims – Amsterdam, Utrecht, Amersfoot, Rheden and Nijmegen – with hundreds of people turning out for what was an emotional event for all involved.

The whole of the country also took part in a minute’s silence for the victims of the event. A host of private and public companies supported the minute silence, with the NS operated trains, Connexion and Arriva buses, and the Schipol airport also partaking.

We are not at war with a religion or Islam and that is the way it is

In response to the attacks, the Dutch Government also held an emergency meeting in the political centre of Holland, The Hague, which called for extra precautionary measures to be put in place to protect the Netherlands. The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, supported all of the efforts to commemorate the victims of the attacks and declared that: “ISIS is our enemy and that is why we are at war. We are not at war with a religion or Islam and that is the way it is.”

Jordan – Sam Jennings

The Za’atri Refugee Camp in Jordan, home to over 83,000 refugees. Image: Wikimedia.org

The news of the Paris attacks slowly dripped through to us over the course of the evening of the 13th. Come morning-time, the full horror of the events were laid out and we could take stock. As for me, I was on a farm growing clementines, just outside Amman on the side of a mountain. Palestine was within sight – just across the Dead Sea. To the north was Syria, to the east, Iraq. It was all extremely pleasant for what many in the West view as the ‘Lion’s mouth.’

Everyone here – the government, the media, locals – have been quick to condemn the attacks. Yet these condemnations are worn and used too often. People have accused Western media of dire oversight in overlooking the ISIS attacks in Beirut and Baghdad. Here in Amman, there seems to be a sense of resignation that Paris would inevitably take the foreground, but it does not sit lightly.

To heed these calls is to succumb to the terror and to alienate, perhaps radicalise, an already vulnerable group of people

Jordan is a country tempered by human calamity. A neighbour of Palestine, Iraq (and now Syria), Jordan is no stranger to migrants. As of February 2015, over 622,000 Syrians were registered with UNHCR in Jordan. The largest refugee camp in Jordan, Za’atari, holds over 83,000 people within 1.3sq miles. Cameron’s ‘4,000-a-year’ pledge pales in comparison.

In Europe and America, several voices have called for revision to the resettlement schemes in response to these attacks. To heed these calls is to succumb to the terror and to alienate, perhaps radicalise, an already vulnerable group of people. As a Palestinian taxi-driver recently told me, life must continue without concession. In essence, clementines must be harvested and re-sown for next year, if only to defy the hate so close to Jordanian borders.

 

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