OPINION: Paris terror must NOT be allowed to divide us

Whitworth Paris cartoon
Whitworth Paris cartoon
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Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

These three poignant words which make up the French motto have been adopted by heartbroken mourners the world over.

Never have they been so meaningful.

On Friday night, the French capital of Paris was left in a state of shock for the second time in less than a year thanks to the disgraceful actions of a group of cowards.

They opened fire on music fans in a packed theatre. They tossed grenades into groups of innocent people and they took hostages in a bid to create widespread terror.

In a show of support to those affected by the tragedy in Paris which has left at least 129 dead, mourners across the globe have been decking buildings in the blue, white and red of the French flag – including buildings such as OMG nightclub here in our city.

A Sheffield family were caught up in the carnage on Friday night.

They described the sheer horror as shots were fired and paramedics carried bodies in the streets as seven separate locations were apparently targeted in a simultaneous attack – see page five.

The disgraceful attacks have been claimed by the terrorist group known as Islamic State.

Those words – liberty, equality and fraternity – have never carried so much weight.

Just as the assault on the Charlie Hebdo offices in January was borne out of hate and intolerance, so too were the merciless and cowardly killings of Friday night carried out with a singular aim: to divide.

Sheffield’s Muslim community has called the attacks ‘abhorrent’.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association of Sheffield has condemned the atrocities and has called on communities to be vigilant against extremism but tolerant towards one another.

It is a message which must be kept front and centre.

We must all work together to fight those who mean to do us harm and we must all ensure we do not allow anyone to divide communities through their actions, or to let fear win out.

Sheffield University’s vice-chancellor, Sir Keith Burnett, says it is our ‘solemn duty’ to ‘replace ignorance and hostility with understanding and discourse.’

Everyone in Sheffield, and indeed the world over, is praying for Paris.

We need to be strong together, now more than ever.