I am so sad today. My heart goes out to the families and friends of the people who were killed and who are still in the hospital.
I feel very touched by these murders. Friends of mine were in close proximity, and friends of friends are in the hospital or were killed. One of the restaurants that was attacked is next to a vegan spot that Felix and I go to often. All of these places are places I know well and that I could easily have been at or near on Friday.
It feels hard to mourn because so so much of the collective mourning here seems to be centered around nationalism, the French flag, and celebrating how wonderful France is. I cannot separate French nationalism from colonial racism, Islamophobia, and imperialism. So how do I feel my feelings right now? I am sad, upset, angry, but I do not agree with the French government and I do not valorize the French state. I am trying to hold all this together and to mourn in a way that feels right to me.
I believe, as analysts have said, that these terrorist attacks were not the beginning of a war in France, but the manifestation of wars France is already participating in, specifically by bombing Syria. France was at war, is at war, and now we are seeing what war looks like in our own city. Terrorist attacks happen in many places and they only get this type of attention when they target Europeans or people from the U.S. I am especially close to Paris because this is my home right now. I have been given a glimpse of what it feels like to live with this type of violence and death, and I am thinking of the millions of people who live with this type of fear everyday.
In a country where it is illegal to wear a hijab in public buildings, where my Arab friends talk how strangers look at them with racism and fear on their faces, about being afraid to go outside, and where violent anti-Muslim attacks increased 500% after the Charlie Hebdo attack, I am very afraid of what is to come. I am also heartened by some of the analysis I am reading in friend’s Facebook posts and in articles from activist organizations. I am trying to end on a positive note here, hopeful that we can stand together against this Islamophobic backlash, which has already started.