“An attack on all of humanity” was how President Barack Obama described the horrific events that took place Friday 13th, 2015. Six coordinated attacks all over Paris, France left over 150 people dead and hundreds of others wounded.
The Eagles of Death were giving a concert at the Bataclan concert hall when armed men attacked, killing many and taking others hostage. When the situation was over, there were over 100 lifeless bodies all over the concert hall, which was bursting with positive energy and a love for music just hours earlier. According to CNN, witness statements from individuals inside the concert hall during the attacks reported that the attackers were shouting “Allahu akbar” while opening fire on the masses. Allahu akbar is a phrase which in Arabic means “God is great/God is the greatest”. This phrase has become synonymous with some terrorist attacks, as many attackers have shouted it as they perpetrate their crimes.
Whilst the concert attack was the most brutal, there were others that also took with them the lives of many people. There were several shootings on busy streets and suicide bombings near the Stade de France.
France has since closed its boarders and declared a state of emergency, releasing its armed forces onto the streets of Paris to try to control the situation and protect its citizens from more acts of terror. People were advised to stay indoors and avoid the streets if possible. Despite this, many individuals took to marching the streets with signs letting the terrorists know that they were not afraid.
Twitter was completely taken over by the event, with over twelve million Tweets pertaining to it. Hundreds of celebrities tweeted expressing their empathy and love. France was the topic trending worldwide for hours. It continues to be the number one trending topic as I write this at 9 PM Los Angeles time.
With these attacks, we were able to see the online community mobilize itself in a way that had never before been seen. Parisians were using Twitter hashtags to help those trapped in the city. The hashtag “#PorteOuverte” was used to connect people offering shelter to those who were stranded/lost and needed a place to stay and find cover. Likewise, Americans were using the hashtag “#StrandedInTheUS” to offer people shelter due to flight cancellations to France.
The way the online community mobilized itself with the attacks has truly shocked me and amazed me at the same time. Events like these come to show how amazing social media can be when it is used in ways that benefits society. I can’t help but to think about all the people who were helped and possibly saved tonight because they found that tweet that led them to shelter.
I refuse to talk about the attackers, their names, associations and intentions. Tragedies are too often focused on the perpetrators and not on the brave men and women who survive and fight against all odds to preserve their lives and dignity.