Principal’s Blog: Understanding Paris

The events of Friday 13th November in Paris will remain in our minds possibly for the rest of our lives.

In the same way we remember the moment we heard about the death of Princess Diana, or the 9/11 news reports, this weekend of death and terror on the streets of Paris will haunt us. This week we will be working with our students to try to help them understand the events of the weekend and to make some sense of them.

We will be saying two things.

This is not about Islam. These atrocities are not done in the name of Islam. Islamic is just an identity that these terrorist like to use – their actions are not part of the teaching of Islam or of any religion. In the 1980s we had football hooligans identified as Chelsea or Millwall supporters but, as every true fan of these clubs knows, they did not support football. Being identified as part of a ‘tribe’ and going to football games for a fight does not have anything to do with football. Terrorists killing on the streets of Paris has nothing to do with Islam or followers of Islam.

Violence does not solve any problem. Civilisation flourishes when there is peace. Wars finish when people want peace more than fighting. As Winston Churchill said: “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war”. Terrorism is not defeated by more guns, more armed people, and tighter controls on movement: it ends when people sit down to talk. We have seen the peace process work in Ireland, in Sri Lanka, in South Africa. It is never easy and it must seem an insurmountable problem at the time, but history shows that societies that can find solutions are better and stronger than those that lash out and destroy.

The thoughts of all at Penrice are with those that have lost a parent, a brother or sister, a son or daughter, a friend, a colleague on the streets of Paris on Friday night, and with all the victims of the war in Syria and Iraq. We pray for those who are lost and for peace to prevail, one day.

David Parker, Principal