A series of shootings and suicide bombings saw at least 128 people killed in six sites around the French capital Paris last night, Friday. Activists in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in Paris spoke to Socialist Worker on Saturday morning.
Vanina Giudicelli said, “Paris is in a state of utter shock. People spent the whole of last night checking their friends, family and colleagues were ok. But the shock at these barbaric acts hasn’t checked the speed of the political actions.”
President Francois Hollande declared the first nationwide state of emergency in more than 50 years, and reimposed controls at the borders. In a chilling speech from the site of the worst massacre he warning, “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless.”
But France is already at war. Its forces began bombing Syria just under seven weeks ago, and Iraq a year ago. Hollande last week announced that that he would expand the campaign.
Radio presenter Pierre Janaszak had been inside the concert hall. He said of the attackers, “I clearly heard them say ‘It’s the fault of Hollande, it’s the fault of your president, he should not have intervened in Syria’. They also spoke about Iraq.”
Friday night’s attacks come as far right groups are already organising “protests” targeting refugees, and in a regional election campaign shaped by the fascist National Front. Journalists and politicians took to Twitter to blame Muslims and demand they disassociate themselves from the violence.
The massacres at the office of magazine Charlie Hebdo and at kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher in January were followed by a wave of vandalism on mosques and attacks on Muslims.
Activist Sellouma told Socialist Worker, “It’s clear that Muslims will pay dearly. People are reading horrible things on social media—it seems this will be worse than after Charlie.”
Vanina has been organising in solidarity with migrants on the streets of Paris. Protests organised by migrants that were set to take place this weekend have now been banned.
In a statement leading anti-racist Denis Godard wrote, "In a cruel and tragic irony it's in the area around Place de la Republique that many people were killed - the very place where the migrants' camp was cleared out a few hours earlier."
Vanina said, “The debate is dominated by calls to national unity. Even leading radical left figure Jean-Luc Melenchon has called for ‘our government to have all the means at its disposal to act as it sees fit.’ There are dissenting voices, but they are scattered.
“They are those who haven’t forgotten what the national unity demanded in January meant. It brought only authoritarian laws, more racism, a bigger audience for the far right and more French military interventions—but no real solution.”
She added, “Now more than ever we need to take on the arguments.”
In a statement, the NPA slammed the government’s wars and racism.
It said, “Once again, those most responsible for this onslaught of violence are calling for national unity. They want to turn this tragic situation to their advantage to stifle indignation and revolt. And for that they already have a scapegoat handy—the Muslims.”
It warned, “To end terrorism, we must end imperialist wars”.