This morning Europe woke up to new atrocities in Paris. France’s President François Hollande has categorized the synchronized assaults as an “act of war” decreeing a three-day national mourning period. It was only ten months ago that the atrocious acts that targeted the offices of Paris-based satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket rocked Paris. Then as now, leaders from around the world offering condolences, support and camaraderie have condemned the attacks.
While the earlier nihilistic attacks appeared to have a specific target and purpose, this time it is different. This time it was not an attack against a specific organization for a specific cause. The global outpouring of reassurances of solidarity for France is doing little to stem a newly resurrected — and less surmountable — fear. Rather it is the apparent randomness in targets as well as the scope and scale that instills particular anxiety and apprehension. The nature of the horrific attacks has served to highlight the virtual impossibility of protecting citizens of any country from coordinated violence against seemingly arbitrary targets. France and other countries have announced increased security measures however these are unlikely to deter random heinous acts in the name of “faith” that can be undertaken at any time by one or a few armed individuals.