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Miami responds to Paris attacks

By Bonnie Meibers, Senior Staff Writer

The terrorist attacks in Paris Nov. 13 stunned the international community and left many questioning their security. Miami University is no exception.

Arthur Saint-Mleux is a senior from Paris, France.

He called his parents, who are still living in Paris, the night of the attacks. They didn't know what had happened until the next day, which is when they told their son about the explosions and the hostage situation. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attacks.

"It was pretty crazy," Saint-Mleux said.

While none of his family or friends were hurt, Saint-Mleux said the more he thinks about the attacks, the more personally affected he feels.

"Just the fact that someone would come to your country and hurt you," he said. "It's unthinkable."

Saint-Mleux considers himself and loved ones lucky.

The orchestrated events last weekend were, combined, the most fatal attack on French soil since World War II, killing 129 and wounding 350.

"I'm shocked that something this barbaric and violent could happen in Paris," said Zeina Abirached.

Abirached is a graphic novelist, originally from Beirut, Lebanon, who later moved to Paris to get away from the civil war and violence.

She was invited to Miami to give a lecture Monday night called "Drawing the Middle East." Her books are written in French, but often focus on the war-torn Beirut of her childhood.

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And, for Abirached, the violence last week hit two-fold: the day before Paris was attacked, Beirut was also struck with violence that killed over 40 people.

"It was very weird because one day I was writing SMS to my friends there [in Beirut], and the next day they were writing to me [in Paris]," Abirached said.

Abirached said the "Arab world" and Beirut are "used to" terrorist attacks, so the bombings in Lebanon were less publicized. But, she said, Paris is a free, democratic country, a place that rarely experiences violence of this kind. The world was shocked.

"It is very difficult to speak about it," she said. "But I am alive, so I have to continue."

In France, Saint-Mleux said, citizens have been asked to stay in at night when possible to avoid the possibility of another attack. Some of his friends took place in demonstrations after the attacks.

"I feel, when I go home for Christmas, it will be an interesting atmosphere," he said.

Since the attack in Paris, countries around the world, including the United States, have reconsidered how to handle the refugees streaming through their borders. There has been much turmoil and debate over where the Syrian refugees will go - and if they will be allowed in at all.

As of Tuesday, 26 U.S. governors, including John Kasich of Ohio, had announced they would not allow refugees into their states for fear that violent extremists would be among them.

In an effort to stand with Paris and open up dialogue between Miami students and faculty, the academic departments of religion, French, political science and international studies teamed up yesterday to discuss the events of the past week.

Nathan French, an assistant professor in the department of comparative religion, studies jihadi-salafism and spoke at last night's event. He believes ISIS is trying to polarize opinion against the migrant community by committing these acts of terrorism.

French said the Islamist State uses violence as a creative, disciplinary and political instrument and is trying to use that violence to their advantage.

"ISIS is watching very closely to see how the West responds to this," French said.

Other Miami professors who spoke on the panel are Carl Dahlman, director of the international studies program; Erica Edwards, associate professor of political science; and Mark McKinney, professor and interim chair of the French and Italian department.