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Entries in Enlightenment (1)

Saturday
Nov142015

Prayers are not what Paris needs right now



Paris is the most amazing city I've ever been to - aesthetically and culturally. It's heartbreaking to see what happened there last night.

The #prayforparis hashtag isn't sitting well with me though. Paris is the home of the Enlightenment and capital of one of the most (proudly) secular countries on earth; and, although there are many complex factors at play here, it is impossible to ignore religion as a key driving force behind these awful attacks. So given the toxic role that relgion in all this, and the historical aversion to it in France, I'm not sure Parisians want to be prayed for right now - there are more appropriate or practical ways of supporting them. And better hashtags.

Feel iffy about all the flags on Facebook too, sorry. Facebook could have suggested a better way of showing solidarity than encouraging a bit of flag-waving (mixed with selfies) at a time like this.

We find ourselves in a place where religion and flag-waving have played a huge role in generating these awful attacks - but somehow our collective social media response has been 'let's pray, and here's a picture of me with a flag on my face'. There's an old catchphrase involving liberté, égalité, fraternité which might work a tad better both online and offline. Each of these three ideals will be much needed in the coming weeks. Less so the prayers and French-themed selfies.