Paris is a special place, a city the world associates with romance, culture, good times and the fine things of life. Isis (Islamic State), an entity all the world associates with savagery, supposedly in the name of religion, will relish every anguished and angry word written or spoken about its Friday night rampage in Paris. Its statement yesterday claimed the targets had been carefully chosen: the Stade de France during a football match between "crusader nations" France and Germany, a theatre "where hundreds of idolaters gathered for a concert of prostitution and vice", plus restaurants and nightlife in three districts.
It was all carried out, they say, by "eight brothers" equipped with assault rifles and suicide vests, in retaliation for France's participation in the war against their "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria. The caliphate has not been doing so well of late. Western air assistance has enabled Kurd and Shia militias to contain the expansion it needs for credibility on its own religious terms. Russia's air strikes in Syria, though targeted more broadly at enemies of the Assad regime, must be hurting Isis. Hence its downing of a Russian airliner over Sinai two weeks ago.
That was followed last week with a double suicide bombing in Beirut, killing 41 people. Isis' admission of responsibility for the Paris attack warns there will be more. It is a message all countries involved in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq will be taking seriously. Airlines and airports have been reviewing their security after what happened over Sinai. Likewise, the horror that Paris has experienced could happen in any city anywhere, including here.
It is not yet confirmed where all the gunmen in Paris came from, though one or two are thought to have entered Europe as refugees in the recent wave. But, sadly, they would not need to have come from the war zone. This sick, savage cult that claims Islamic justification is said to have an appeal to the misanthropes and malcontents who can be found in all societies at any time.
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"Violent extremism in New Zealand and by New Zealanders" was the top of a list of concerns set out by the Security Intelligence Service and the Government Communications Security Bureau in their post-election briefing for ministers made public this month. Those who scoff at precautions taken, or question the need for surveillance of individuals whose actions or associations give cause for concern, ought to note what happened in Paris.
It was not the first terrorism of its kind. An attack on a number of places almost simultaneously also happened in Mumbai in 2008, where hotels and restaurants were targeted by al-Qaeda. The execution-style shooting of people at the Paris rock concert was a repeat of the Moscow theatre seige by Chechens in 2002.
Crimes of this kind demand an international response. It is time the civilised world said enough. All countries, including real Islamic states, should join a concerted action to remove this deadly distortion of their religion and the threat it poses to everyday life everywhere.