Friday evening, a BYU-Idaho student was Skyping with his parents in France as they were watching the France vs. Germany soccer game on TV. His father paused when breaking news interrupted the game and learned there had been a terrorist attack in Paris.
The attack left at least 129 people dead with over 300 others injured and 99 in critical condition.
“All of a sudden, you realize there is something going on that’s really serious,” said Benjamin Ploquin, a French student at BYU-I and a junior studying business management. “Once the initial shock is gone, you realize your world is probably going to be changed forever. It’s those moments where you realize such an event is going to have an affect on every aspect of life.”
Six separate attacks occurred involving eight suicide bombers along with several gunmen who began to open fire on civilians and capturing hostages and then using explosives when police arrived, according to The Wall Street Journal.
“I saw videos where you hear people screaming and crying in your own language,” Ploquin said. “You see streets that are familiar with blood all over the sidewalks and bodies. [The state of emergency] is a really a strong call that something is really wrong, that things are going to change and nothing will be the same again.”
ISIS themselves claimed responsibility of the attack on a social media account called Telegram, a messaging platform, according to The New York Times.
“Eight brothers, wrapped in explosive belts and armed with machine rifles, targeted sites that were accurately chosen in the heart of the capital of France,” ISIS said in their statement, according to The New York Times. “Let France and those who walk in its path know that they will remain on the top of the list of targets of the Islamic State.”
French President François Hollande said the extremist group ISIS is responsible for the deadly attack and declared France in a state of emergency.
“It is an act of war that was waged by a terrorist army, a jihadist army, by Daesh, against France,” President Hollande said, according to The Wall Street Journal. “This act of war was prepared and planned from the outside, with accomplices inside. France, because it was freely, cowardly attacked, will be merciless against the terrorists.”
Ploquin said, despite the attacks, the people of France will continue to move forward and go about their daily lives.
“People are crying, people are still in shock,” Ploquin said. “But people have the will to show the terrorists they are not scared. Lots of Parisians are sad, but they still try to go about their daily life, not because they don’t care, but to show that they are not scared and they don’t want terror to rule their life.”
President Barack Obama called the event “an outrageous attempt to terrorize innocent civilians,” according to CNN.
“This is an attack on all of humanity and the universal values we share,” President Obama said at a White House press conference, according to CNN. “We stand prepared and ready to provide whatever assistance the people of France need to respond. This is a heartbreaking situation, and obviously those of us here in the United States know what it’s like, and we’ve gone through these kinds of episodes ourselves.”
Ploquin said students should be aware of what is going on, not only in the United States, but internationally.
“It’s very important for people to get informed on what is going on internationally,” Ploquin said. “It’s going to have a major impact on us. It already has. If we as a society don’t realize the importance and impact that this has, we just see terror become our daily life.”
The First Presidency of the Church issued a statement responding to the attacks in Paris.
“With people around the world, we mourn today as we consider the horrific tragedies that have occurred in Paris,” according to Mormon Newsroom. “We pray for those affected, for their families and loved ones, for the leaders of nations and most especially for the people of France as they struggle to recover from the violence and loss they are feeling so deeply. We have directed that flags on Temple Square be flown at half staff, and that the French flag be flown here as an expression of our love and support for them. In these hours of uncertainty and despair, we ask members of the Church everywhere to join with us in our prayer that the peace of the Savior Jesus Christ will provide comfort, healing, understanding and hope.”
Frédéric J. Babin, president of the France Paris Mission, said all missionaries serving in the Paris area are safe and accounted for, according to the mission’s Facebook page.
“At the time of the bombings, all the missionaries were in their apartment,” President Babin said in the Facebook post. “A message was sent to the Zone Leaders to make sure that all missionaries based in Paris will stay in their apartments tomorrow until further notice. No missionaries are allowed to come to Paris tomorrow.”
Chad Grey, a sophomore studying mechanical engineering, said he feels sad about the Paris attacks.
“It’s sad to see another country get attacked like that,” Grey said. “I think it’s really good how everyone’s getting together to think of Paris and to help.”
Ploquin said one of the most important things BYU-I students can do is simply to be aware of what is going on in the world, which can lead to change.
“Being aware of it is what’s important,” Ploquin said. “The support brings a lot of emotions. It’s extremely touching to see people show support who have never been to France or who don’t even speak French put that on their Facebook wall. Sometimes you feel a little disconnect like you can’t really relate to people. Now everybody feels involved in it. There’s a sense that people care.”