It was a calm evening on Nov. 13. French residents and tourists had their evenings planned out. Soccer fans attended the anticipated world championship match between Germany and France. Some enjoyed an evening in the capital’s restaurants and bars while others explored hole-in-wall concert venues to enjoy a night rocking out with friends.
APU student international business major Elena Taber and former APU student Tessa Corbett, who was visiting Taber in Paris, were among the many who were anticipating just another uneventful Friday night out in the beautiful city of lights before a tragic massacre would unfold.
ISIS, an extremist Islamic group, attacked France’s capital and the surrounding areas, including the national stadium where the soccer game was held. Some had AK-47s, others had bombs strapped onto them.
Six locations in and around Paris were attacked, leaving more than 120 people dead. The worst bloodshed occurred at the Bataclan where an American band was performing.
People were slaughtered as ISIS opened fire into the crowd for 10-15 minutes. While the band was able to escape to safety, 80 others were murdered.
When I initially received updates about what was happening on my cell phone, I immediately thought of my Trinity Hall friend from last year, Elena, who is taking the year off from school to live in France.
My roommates and I texted her to make sure she was safe, hoping she was nowhere near the attacks, but sadly we were wrong. Taber was only half a mile away from the Bataclan theater where people were being massacred. She responded to our messages that she was unsure of whether or not she would be safe.
Sophomore communications major Raven Macaraeg, another former hall mate, was one of the first to contact Taber.
“I was absolutely terrified because I knew she was in that area and that there was a large possibility she could have gotten hurt,” Macaraeg said. “I felt like I couldn’t help her and that was killing me.”
On the day of the attack, Taber and her friends had a picnic under the Eiffel Tower and then walked to the concert venue/bar where they would be seeing a hipster band perform. Taber described how lively the young crowd was in the area, enjoying the night life in Paris.
“Everything was going according to plan,” Taber recalled.
“We were watching the band perform, and about an hour into it our friends were getting text messages that there was a shooting,” Taber said. “I didn’t really think much of it because you hear things like that all the time in Los Angeles.”
Taber didn’t know that it was an ISIS attack until much later in the night.
“Once I got a text from a friend in the states when there was…10 people dead, that was when I realized that something bad was going down really close if people from California were asking me if I was okay,” Taber said. “It was the unknown of if we were going to survive; it was just a lot of confusion and fear.”
Taber and Corbett stayed at the concert venue until 3 a.m., while people were being held hostage and killed only a few blocks away. They finally snuck out the back of the bar with a group of older gentlemen who offered to walk with them to find a taxi when things settled down hours later.
In an Instagram post, Taber reflected on the attacks:
“What if we had gone to the EoDM concert instead of the show we were at a few blocks away? What if we had left the venue when we heard about the first shootings and walked into the line of fire? What if we had eaten dinner at Place de la Republique on the 13th instead of on the 12th?…We were spared by the grace of God and it has opened my eyes to how fortunate we are to be here.”
Taber has been an example of bravery, and through her story I’ve learned the power of prayer in times of horrific confusion.
However, pursuing prayer does not mean that we remain inactive. Prayer requires action.
Justice for not only France but the world, has to be fulfilled against this extremist group that is killing in the name of Allah. I am in shock that many people are so comfortable with policies of inaction. The reason America has been a great nation is because we are just.
But when we constantly back away from difficult issues like this, are we really that great nation that once stood for justice for all?
War is not the answer to all things, but in a lecture given by Dr. Frederick W. Kagan hosted by the Department of History and Political Science earlier in November before the Paris attack, he stated:
“I don’t take this lightly, but the problem is that when people are at war with you, it’s very problematic to say that you’re not at war with them.”
Macaraeg also commented on the issue. “I do believe the U.S. should get involved. I think it’s ridiculous that we have to wait for something bad to happen to us personally to do something,” Macaraeg continued. “We need to band together with other countries and put a stop to [ISIS].”
I completely agree with Macaraeg and Dr. Kagan.
We need to stand together to put an end to this extremist group that has murdered, and will continue to murder, non-Islamic people. The U.S. should be involved because we are the main target for ISIS, which has claimed to hate Western society. They are at war with us. They have come out and claimed that the next attack will be “much worse, and more bitter.” We should not wait until they do to decide to go to war. We should be preparing ourselves now to eradicate them completely. We have an obligation to protect our country.
As Christians, I think we have a responsibility to help those who are suffering. Going to war may be inevitable, but our current duty is to pray for our leaders to have the wisdom to make the right decisions. We need to also exercise our rights to peacefully protest against the policies of inaction.
The government should answer the people, not the other way around.