Pray for Paris, a Frenchman’s response

AP Photo/Christophe Ena
A French supporter reacts after invading the pitch of the Stade de France stadium at the end of the international friendly soccer match between France and Germany in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Friday, Nov. 13, 2015. Hundreds of people spilled onto the field of the Stade de France stadium after explosions were heard nearby. French President Francois Hollande says he is closing the country’s borders and declaring a state of emergency after several dozen people were killed in a series of unprecedented terrorist attacks.

Peoples’ homes are attacked; it is a fact of life that cannot be changed. For some, it can occur while they are there, and for others, while they are away on a grocery run, night on the town, vacation, or, like freshman golfer Joris Eltin, while he was attending school on another continent.

Eltin came to America because it is common in France for golf athletes to come overseas and play for a university, before going back to France and continuing a career there. To stay in France and play would mean that Eltin and other athletes would be unable to get an education and play golf at the same time.

“When you compare them, you see the only way to continue playing and get a degree is to come here,” said Eltin.

It was while he was studying that Eltin found out about the attack on Paris when his phone began to go off from posts on Facebook. He then tried to find reliable sources online and eventually messaged his family to find out what they knew. 

“If we look at Facebook, and everything else we read, of them, only few are true, so it’s difficult to know what to believe,” said Eltin.

According to the Paris Prosecutor spokeswoman Agnes Thibault-Lecuivre, after the attacks eight terrorists are dead, seven were killed by suicide bombings.

There were three teams that attacked in seven locations throughout and around the city, with four bombers and three shootings. One of the targeted areas was the stadium during a soccer game against the 2014 World Cup Champions Germany. In attendance was also the French president. Other places that were attacked included restaurants and a concert venue. 

As  of now, over 150 deaths have resulted from the attacks, with over 300 individuals are in critical condition.

“It was not a shock to hear there was another attack,” said Eltin. “It was a shock to know how many died and how big it was.”

In January of this year, an attack on Charlie Hebdo, a French satirical magazine that had cartoon art which was believed to mock the prophet Mohammed, killed 12 people. 

“What many Americans may not know, however, is there were five, smaller, attacks after it,” said Eltin. “When you are American you only hear about big things. So if there are two or three dead people in France, I don’t think anyone will hear about it. It’s the same here. You don’t hear about it in France.”

Eltin believes his government has waited too long, and that the terrorists who came did not come one week before, but had been living in France for a while.

With more Syrian refugees continuing to pour into France, Eltin thinks they should increase control with other methods, like official papers, and if refugees’ information does not match up, then they should be forbidden to come into France.

“I think there is one big priority that needs to be done as well,” said Eltin. “No one makes the difference between Muslims and terrorists, and in my opinion, this is a big problem.”

According to Eltin, when we look at the names or just picture of men who were terrorists, a lot of people will say ‘oh they are Muslims, so all Muslims are terrorists and shouldn’t stay in France.’ He thinks it is a big mistake to do that.

“It is not because you are a Muslim that you are a terrorist,” said Eltin.

Being far from home during this tragedy has not broken Eltin’s spirits. Seeing the responses from his friends, being asked if his family and friends are okay and words of comfort has reminded him of what they did in France during 9/11 to show support for Americans.

One of his sisters lives in Paris very close to what happened, but she had gone home just a few days before the attacks.

“It would have been difficult if my family or one of my sisters were in the attacks,” said Eltin on deciding to stay in the states. “But, everybody was safe so it was not as difficult for me. Even if I was in France now, there would be nothing I could do to help.”

Russian leader Vladimir Putin sent his condolences to the people of France and stated, “Russia strongly condemns this inhumane killing and is ready to provide any and all assistance to investigate these terrorist crimes.”

While political figures begin to call meetings and decide the next course of action, mourners continue to line the streets of Paris, holding vigils over those lost at the sites of what will be a historic tragedy for the City of Love.

AP Photo/Francois Mori
A graffiti on the pavement reads “ Where there is Hate, I want to bring Love” next to candles and flowers on a site of Friday night killings, rue de La Fontaine au Roi, in Paris, France, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. French President Francois Hollande says the Paris attacks targeted “youth in all its diversity” and that the victims were of 19 different nationalities.