On Saturday the 14th, nearly 500 people gathered for a vigil on the Buchanan Gallery steps, after student Liam Bruce created the event on Facebook. The vigil was organised in order to remember those who lost their lives in the terror attacks that took place in Paris on Friday the 13th of November.
Multiple landmarks across Glasgow were lit up over the weekend to show support for Paris. The SSE Hyrdo, St. George’s Street and the Finnieston Crane were all illuminated with the French flag of blue, white and red, with the screen in George’s Square projecting the words ‘Je t’aime’.
As well as the Europe-wide minute’s silence held on Monday 16 November, a brief memorial was held in the Glasgow University Chapel at 2:00pm on Tuesday 17 November.
Hervé, a 25 year old Frenchman who has worked in Glasgow for the past two years, was at the vigil and told The Glasgow Guardian: “My first reaction was to check on my friends left in Paris on the internet.” Corentin, a 20 year old Erasmus student, added that: “The news was a real shock. I came [to the vigil] in order to show solidarity to the families of the people who died and to say ‘No’ to terrorism”.
Dozens of bouquets, candles and messages were laid on the Buchanan Gallery steps in order to show solidarity. Some of the messages read: “We are all Paris”, “#GlasgowCares”‘ ‘Terrorism has no religion”, “Joie de vivre”, “#prayforparis”, and “Peace Paris”.
The crowd sung the French national anthem during the parade, and many people shouted “Vive la France” during the hour-long vigil.
The vigil was attended by multiple people of different origins, ethnicities and faiths. Linda, a German student from Glasgow University told The Glasgow Guardian that she felt it was her “responsibility” to be at the vigil. She added: “Now I have the feeling that terrorism has reached Europe. I had to come there, even if a simple vigil doesn’t mean much in the fight against terrorism. But it is our duty to react, although there is no simple solution. For instance, I fear that a too belligerent answer may do more harm to everyone”.
Linda’s concern raises the fear of increased occurrences of racism, islamophobia and radical political movements that were seen following the Charlie Hebdo attacks last January. Already, several UK newspapers have urged parliament to immediately pass the so-called ‘Snooper’s Charter’. Two days after the attack, a petition to “Stop all immigration and close the UK borders until ISIS is defeated.” reached over 340,000 online signatures. A large amount of signatures come from Scotland, with the constituency of Glasgow East raising over 1,000 signatures in two days.
Glasgow University Oxfam Society organised an open discussion on the media’s role in the Paris attacks and intended to “talk about the media’s response to terrorism, and the media’s effect on perpetrating unjust generalisations and in fear mongering”.
Hervé expressed his political concerns with The Glasgow Guardian, saying: “Paris acted as a scapegoat… We somehow knew it was going to happen. France was the terrorists’ number one enemy, since the army led air strikes in Syria. But I still think it was necessary. We are fighting for a right cause, and we can’t let terrorists believe that they won. This war is also symbolical: this is why they picked Paris. I hope that what happened will unite people, instead of separating them. As much in France as internationally. Otherwise, all those people will be dead for nothing.”