Collegiate Reporting

Terror in Paris: Suffolk speaks out


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The violence in Paris has shocked the world.

In the scope of Boston, which is home to thousands of international college students, the outrage is palpable. Recent Suffolk University graduate Sylvain Gualier, who now lives back in his hometown of Lille, France, said the country is shocked beyond the attacks in January against the Charlie Hebdo magazine.

“It’s weird to experience this type of event,” said Gaulier. “We usually see similar images [like these attacks] in Israel or Syria… We’re officially at war against ISIS now. More than ever.”

“It’s so sad,” said Gaulier.

As the Islamic State (IS) claim their responsibility in the attacks in Paris, French President Francois Hollande has labeled it as “an act of war.”

Pope Francis has called it a “piecemeal Third World War,” and “no religious or human justification for it,” according to BBC.

Sarah Hutchinson, the treasurer for Suffolk’s French Club, explained that they are reaching out to those in the Suffolk community grieving during this time.

“Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the Paris attack,” said Hutchinson. “Our devastation cannot be put into words. However, we know that with France’s strength and the support of its allies, France will come out a stronger nation.”

The death toll in the attacks has risen to 132 with 349 injured, and 42 of them still in intensive care as of late Tuesday evening, according to Reuters.

The university confirmed three Suffolk students are currently studying in Paris. Attempts by the Journal to reach the students were unsuccessful. However, Suffolk President Margaret McKenna said in an email on Saturday morning that all three students are accounted for.

A university official released the names to a Journal reporter: They are Killa Hnatko, Yuka Kawanishi, and Nadine Moujahed.

“The barbaric acts that took place in Paris yesterday violate the very essence of humanity,” said McKenna in the email. “Today our thoughts are with the people of France, with all of those affected by this unspeakable tragedy, and with a world united against this deplorable violence.”

University spokesperson Greg Gatlin explained that the Director of the Center for International Programs and Services, Kathy Sparaco, has been in touch with the students and contacted counterparts at institutions where the students are studying to make sure they are safe.

“The safety of our students is of the highest priority,” said Gatlin. “That includes Suffolk students studying in Boston or anywhere else in the world. We have procedures in place to verify that students are safe, and significant effort is made in making sure we can get in touch with students when there is an emergency situation.”

“[It gives] Suffolk the ability to be better connected to students outside of the U.S.,” said Gatlin when explaining that the university uses the emergency travel company On Call International.

With seven suicide bombers killed from the attacks and seven others arrested with possible connections, there is thought to be more than 15 men linked to the siege so far, according to The Telegraph.

“Eight men acting together isn’t the same as ‘a lone wolf,’” said Gualier. “It’s probably impossible to stop people from committing such acts, but it may be possible to operate stricter controls of people and guns.”

The French Defense Ministry announced on Sunday night that France has carried out a series of strikes on the IS with targets in the Syrian city, Raqqa, according to The Wall Street Journal. The airstrikes included 20 bombs with 10 jet fighters.

The U.S. shared intelligence with France to speed up aid, sharing detailed targeting information to use against the IS militants, officials told The Wall Street Journal.

“You expect something like this would happen someday, but this is still so awful,” said Gaulier from France. “This is worse than January’s attacks. I hope international political leaders will make ‘real’ decisions about IS.”

Suffolk, of course, isn’t the only Boston school with students studying in the international city that has claimed a state of emergency.

A Boston University official told the Journal that 15 students in their Paris study abroad program are known to be safe, as well as the additional students visiting the city at the time of the attacks. According to BU Today on Sunday afternoon, there are currently two faculty members in Paris who are both accounted for, one of which has already left the city.

A Boston College official told the Journal that all 30 students that are currently studying abroad in France are safe as of Sunday night.

An Emerson College official confirmed that they do not have any students currently studying in France.

The Paris attack began on Friday night at 9:20 p.m. when three explosions went off outside the Stade de France as France and Germany faced off in a soccer match.

An estimated 80,000 spectators were present, who were told to immediately move out onto the field as they awaited instructions from the security forces, according to Al Jazeera. One other person was killed in the blast, not including the three suicide bombers that had carried out the explosions on Rue Rimet.

President Hollande was in the stadium during the explosions and was evacuated, according to several news sources.

Just moments later, 12 people were killed right outside the restaurant Le Petit Cambodge, a popular Cambodian restaurant in the 10th district, which was simultaneous to the attack in the 11th district that killed 18, according to France24.

Within the next hour, at the Bataclan concert hall, several armed men began to open fire while calling out the phrase, “Allahu Akbar,” which is an Islamic phrase meaning “God is Greater” in Arabic. The armed men took hostages during this time, according to BBC. When police stormed into the hall hours later, 82 people were killed, not including the three suicide bombers and fourth attacker who was shot dead by police, according to France24.

Hollande visited the Bataclan on Saturday, where he swore to lead a “merciless fight” against those responsible.

Professor Nir Eisikovits of Suffolk’s philosophy department views the IS’s motives as unclear in juncture to their global attacks.

“Some combination of France being perceived by them as a capital of secular decadence, with a desire to show that their recent losses in Syria and Iraq are just temporary setbacks,” said Eisikovits. “It’s not only Paris. In the last few weeks they shot down a Russian plane, set off a bomb in a neighborhood of Beirut controlled by Hezbollah, and tried to do the same in Istanbul.”

U.S. President Barack Obama called the aggression “attacks on all humanity” in a White House press conference as Paris hospitals went into emergency mode on Sunday.

At 12:01 p.m., almost three hours after the first explosion echoed in the Stade de France, President Hollande closed the French borders and declared a state of emergency, which will continue for another three months, according to Israel24.

France deployed 1,500 soldiers to Paris after Hollande’s decision, according to France24.

Parisian buildings such as schools, markets, museums, sport stadiums, and tourist sites are closed, according to several reports, and security checks have been stepped up in cities across Europe.

Police issued a photograph on Sunday afternoon of the terrorist, Salah Abdeslam, 26, who is identified as dangerous and is wanted for his connection to the attacks, according to BBC.

The manhunt for Abdeslam intensifies as he disappeared after the attacks occurred. Some residents of Paris fear that a terrorist is still among them, according to USA Today. However, he has since been suspected of crossing the border into his native country of Belgium, where police there have released more pictures of the wanted man.

Gaulier commented on the fact that some of the attackers are not from foreign countries.

“It’s not only about border control since some of the killers were in France,” said Gaulier. “ISIS has a worldwide influence.”

Security remains high in France as they mobilize 115,000 security personnel of police, gendarmes, and military throughout the country on Tuesday morning, according to BBC news.

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