A series of shootings and suicide bombings killed at least 129 people in the French capital Paris on Friday of last week.
Racists and warmongers quickly tried to turn the tragedy to their advantage.
There were attacks at six sites—on cafe terraces, in the streets and around the football stadium where the national team was playing. The bloodiest was at a rock concert.
Vanina Giudicelli and Sellouma are activists in the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA).
Vanina said, “Paris is in a state of shock. People spent the whole of Friday night checking their friends, family and colleagues were ok. But the shock at these barbaric acts hasn’t checked the speed of political actions.”
President Francois Hollande declared a nationwide state of emergency, reimposed controls at the borders and stepped up France’s bombing of Syria.
Sellouma said, “Despite the state of emergency there have been mass gatherings, such as in Place de la Republique on Sunday night. “But there is a real sense of fear. A heater at a cafe exploded and there was immediate panic. The government wants to take advantage of that fear.
“Even much of the left and the trade union movement has stopped making any demands.
“What has been silenced is the fact that France has carried out imperialist policies abroad and racist policies at home, particularly against Muslims.
“People are in mourning. And that sadness is being turned towards nationalism—being used to stop any politics that challenges the ruling class.”
Sellouma said a plan to extend the state of emergency for three months would make France “like a dictatorship”. She said, “There will be more racist stop and searches, more arbitrary arrests.”
The political atmosphere is already overshadowed by attacks on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and kosher supermarket Hyper Cacher in January.
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’.
“Dissenting voices are scattered. They are those who haven’t forgotten what the national unity demanded in January meant.
“It brought authoritarian laws, more racism, a bigger audience for the far right, more French military interventions—but no real solution.”
In a statement the NPA 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.
“To end terrorism, we must end imperialist wars”.
Speaking from the site of last Friday’s worst massacre President Francois Hollande promised, “We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless.”
But France was already at war.
Its forces began bombing Syria just under seven weeks ago, and Iraq a year ago. Even before the attack, Hollande announced 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.”
French troops are still carrying out “operations” in Mali almost two years after an invasion.
And 2015 has been a record year for French arms exports.
The US-led coalition bombing Syria allowed French forces to lead a raid on Raqqa—capital of Isis-held territory in Syria—last Sunday.
According to anti-Isis activist group Raqqa is being silently slaughtered, around 30 air strikes hit the city, cutting off water and electricity.
Places hit included “a stadium, a museum, clinics, a hospital, a chicken farm and a local governmental building.”
Sellouma said, “It’s been shocking how the lives of people in other countries seem to have much less value than the lives of people in
“France’s bombs are killing people blindly in Syria—and it’s completely legal, seen as completely normal.
“If anyone is arrested it should be Francois Hollande.
“We need to say we don’t want any more wars, we don’t want any more innocent people killed.
“We need to convince people that whatever happens as a result of this escalation will be the fault of the French state.”
Politicians across Europe want to use the attacks to roll back the solidarity for refugees and create more barriers to free movement.
France re-imposed border controls with other European Union (EU) countries within the Schengen space of open internal borders. Poland’s new right wing government announced it would pull out of a EU scheme to relocate refugees (see page 11).
A passport apparently belonging to one of the suicide bombers suggested he entered the EU as a refugee, although there were doubts as to its authenticity.
But at least four of the attackers were identified as French nationals. No amount of border controls would have stopped the attacks.
The real victims of a further clampdown on refugees will be the hundreds of thousands of desperate people fleeing war and poverty. It will mean more drowned children in Europe’s seas.
Refugees in the “Jungle” camp at Calais had a disaster of their own on Friday night, as fire tore through around 50 tents. Racists took to social media to celebrate.
The state has refused to provide safe conditions for the refugees. Instead it has repeatedly sent police to attack them, firing rubber bullets and teargas.
Refugees in Calais and Dunkirk held vigils for the Paris victims on Saturday night. Far from being to blame, many have already fled Isis or similar groups.
One Afghan refugee wrote, “The attack in Paris was horrible … we already had this bad experience in our home country, THAT’S WHY WE’RE HERE.”
The nationwide state of emergency called in France after the attack is the first since the Second World War.
Hollande wants to extend it for three months and change the constitution so he can use more repressive powers without consulting parliament.
A protest by migrants set to take place last Sunday was 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.”
If the state bans the migrants’ next demo this Sunday,anti-racists must be prepared to stand with them and defy the ban.
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