EHF statement on Paris’ attacks

 

 

Brussels, 18 November 2015

Friday’s atrocity in Paris has left the world shaken, stupefied, and appalled at the deaths of so many innocent people. Many have awoken to a strange new realisation that the targets of terrorism are not simply strategic sites or public figures, but ordinary human beings, regardless of their origins, opinions, culture or belief.

On Friday, the forces of terror chose to assault our joy and freedoms in the most direct way they could. This joie de vivre that makes us smile, laugh, enjoy a drink with friends and dance to music.  In Paris, the terrorists found an emblem for everything they despise: a city where diversity has always been the rule, a seat of the Enlightenment which has seen the values of secularism, human rights and equality take roots and spread.

Today we express our deepest condolences to the victims’ families and loved ones. In response to this unspeakable tragedy, our call is a call for unity – a plea for solidarity. Together we will mount a defence of our freedoms while resisting political exploitation and amalgams.

We will not ensure our liberties by closing our doors or by locking our societies up. While there is room for intelligence agencies to improve the way they share information and monitor possible terrorist threats, we caution against easy answers.

Instead, we urge governments and companies to take a critical look at their own links to states which are suspected of supporting terrorism, and to put their values into practice. Sticking to one’s principles may well have an economic cost, but we must never feel inclined to measure human lives in euros. The fight for a fairer society and a more peaceful world begins with the recognition of human value – along with peace, liberty, and fraternity – as supreme above other interests.

We must also call on European governments to improve their measures at preventing the radicalization of European citizens. In increasingly divided societies, we must do more to champion inclusive social and economic policies and invest in education and social justice initiatives so that everyone can find their place in our societies.

And last but not least: we must not harden our hearts to refugees who have experienced crisis alike our own. These people whom Poland, Hungary and Slovakia are already turning their back on. In banishing or refusing sanctuary to others attempting to escape the very same violence that rocked the streets of Paris on Friday, Europe will sacrifice its soul, its conscience, and the lessons it learned over a long and bloody history.  As humanists, we urge states to show solidarity with all the victims of terrorism, be they in Europe or in Egypt, Turkey or Lebanon, Syria or anywhere else in this world.

On Friday, terrorists attempted to undermine the values they hate us for and which define Europe today: freedom, secularism, tolerance and solidarity. They were inspired by a belief that we are weak; that we will buckle and give up on the progressive values that make us who we are.

We must resist that trap. In rallying to the defence of our values, we shall prove them wrong, and we shall triumph over hate and intolerance.
European Humanist Federation