Friday night, the fall weather in Paris was perfect for a stroll. Here in Philadelphia you would compare it to a walk along Penn’s Landing or the Avenue of the Arts. You walking past restaurants some with outdoor seating, a concert venue is packing them in to hear music from a California band. There are people watching a game at the stadium. People are relaxed and enjoying the night. Then there is a blast. Then another. Heads are turning, people are stunned and trying to comprehend what they are hearing. Then the unmistakable sounds of gun shots. People try to run, not knowing which way to go. Inside the concert, the shots are disguised by the sound of the band’s drums. People start screaming, people start falling. You realize that there are multiple shooters and there are people being mowed down by automatic gun fire. You run to, you fall, then you pretend to be dead, you pray the shooters will stop. There is a break while they reload, you know this is the only chance you have to live. You run for doors. You think you’re escaping but you are only changing locales in a new reality where multiple terrorists are taking over your city.
Friday night, this was the reality for the residents of Paris. Responsible for the acts, ISIS had just brought down an airliner with a bomb. The concert venue, Le Bataclan would end up being the site of most devastation. Those who survive speak of the chaos, of the smell of the gunfire mixed with the blood of those being shot and the assassins speaking of Syria and Iran. Juilien Perce, of Paris, was in the theater when shots rang out. He described the scene as, “It was a bloodbath.” Perce was standing near the top of the concert hall nearest to the stage. Explaining the panic, Perce said, “The shooters, they were young, really young, around 25 years old. They were in black but they did not wear masks, no masks.” Other concert goers tried to hide beneath the seats but there was no escape according to Perce. “It lasted for 10 minutes. Ten horrific minutes where everybody was on the floor covering their head,” Perce said and continued by saying he told the people around him to hide and play dead. When the terrorists reloaded Perce and others made a break for it out the rear door. Perce remarked that one thing he remembers it the shooters saying, “Allahu Akbar.” Translated the remark means God is great, or God is the greatest.
Paris is a city in mourning, France is a country in mourning as is the world. The terrorists invoked God, but surely God would not condone the actions of cowardice these terrorist committed against the innocents who were only out for a fall evening. The world mourns with France. As Perce commented the evening was “terrible”. Perce’s voice chokes up as he describes the night as “horrible, seeing the people on the street, many dead, so much blood.” Sunday afternoon, France retaliated by using military planes to bomb a series of ISIS sites in Raqqa, Syria, on Sunday in what officials described as a major bombardment. The targets included a command center, a recruitment center, an ammunition storage base and a training camp for the terror group. France stated that the actions taken by the terrorists against Paris were an act of war.