Nadhim Zahawi is a member of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee and MP for Stratford On Avon.
Today our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Paris and the families and loved ones of those murdered. Twice this year, terrorists have struck that city and shook its people and all Europe to the core. It must never become routine. But in this strange time, where a poisonous ideology of murder and hatred has spread across the world, alien in every way to the vast majority of us, it is plain we live in a new era of danger. It is an era which we must rise to.
Our security services have and will continue to battle every day to keep us safe, but the victims of last night’s terrorist attacks would ask something else from us too. They would ask that we reply to this brutality, hate and cruelty with a repudiation of everything the attackers stood for and a clear message that Europe, a continent that knows what it is to tear itself apart with violence and hate, will remain a torch of freedom and democracy no matter what terrorists do.
After 9/11, all those who stood up for freedom and democracy stood with the United States.
After 7/7, London sent that message to the watching world that to change how you behave is victory for terror.
In January, terrorists tried to extinguish free expression in the Charlie Hebdo massacres and the French reminded us that an ideology that cannot let others speak is inherently weaker than the cry of liberté, égalité, fraternité. They will show us that again now.
The scale of the attack is still sinking in and I’m sure it will take a long time before it does. Many of us had friends in Paris last night and it was a sleepless night until we heard they were safe. At current estimates from the French police and security services, over 120 people are dead and well over a hundred are injured – Heaven will be far too crowded with angels tonight.
France can grieve, but it can do so in the knowledge that their friends around the world will not abandon them, as they wouldn’t us.
The terrorists attacked with bombs, guns and grenades. They coordinated their drive by shootings at Paris’ iconic restaurants and bars with bombing at a football stadium and a theatre massacre at the Bataclan that left 100 dead. They said it was for Syria and invoked God to explain their crime, but they fooled no one. It was senseless, just as terrorism always seems.
In the clear light of day, the panic fades and we can see that it was well planned and executed with grisly efficiency. If this level of planning is a sign of how these terror groups are organising then it is frightening news indeed. More resources must be placed in the hands of the police and intelligence agencies to thwart them, and we must redouble our sharing with our European friends so we can stop these killings anywhere these murderers plan them. We know from Sousse that they do not need to be on our isle to strike at the freedom and safety of Britons.
It can never be guaranteed that we will not suffer a similar attack in one of our great cities, but we can do our best to reduce the chances. We know that our security services thwart countless attacks each month and we thank them. That however is the task for the long years ahead. Today, our job is to remember the victims of the Paris attacks and honour them by upholding all our common universal values of respect, dignity and freedom.
Vive la France.
This article was orginally published by the Stratford Herald