WHILE Europe, indeed the world, gets to grips with the latest terrorist outrage, there is an air of defiance that follows any attempt to curtail the freedom of the individual. The easy option would be to stay indoors, pull the covers over your head and wait for the nightmare to pass.
In Britain, the type of spirit that dealt with bombs dropping from the sky during world war two inevitably re-emerges every time there is a setback that threatens liberty. It is the type of sentiment that is undoubtedly, and thankfully, prevalent in Paris at the moment.
Heartwarmingly, the events of the past few days have shown that, regardless of the actions of a segment of the global community, there are more good people in the world than bad. This may sound like the longing agenda of the idealist liberal, but when terrible things happen, it brings out the hope in humanity. It has to.
There is, quite naturally, talk about postponing Euro 2016 in the aftermath of the attacks of November 13, in the interests of safeguarding the masses. Admittedly, the event provides a veritable blank canvas for the terrorist, but football fans are rarely deterred by danger. One thing that is sure to provoke an “at all costs” response it is any attempt at depriving supporters of their football – especially in times of extreme adversity.
There can be no greater expression of freedom than 80,000 people watching and participating in a major sporting event.
Euro 2016 will possibly be the biggest security event on the planet, and should almost certainly be a pan-European exercise. It has to be that way for the continent to have the type of seamless protection it will need to reassure travelling supporters they are in good hands and, equally importantly, to send a strong, unequivocal message to the perpetrators of these disgraceful events.
Similarly, there was talk in the cold, dark hours as Paris stared into the abyss that the friendly between England and France should not take place. As Wembley bathed in the red, white and blue of the tricolor, the decision was made to go ahead with the game, and it is now sure to be a full-house as football gets its chance to display its support for a shell-shocked nation.
How ironic that England and France, never the easiest of friends, economically and politically, should come together in a time of crisis and tragedy. Wembley will be an emotional place as football fans from both countries unite to demonstrate that terrorism will not prevent them from enjoying the freedom of choice. There can be no greater expression of freedom than 80,000 people watching and participating in a major sporting event. If the actions of extremist groups curtails the peaceful gathering of people, we are in deep trouble. Community is at the heart of democracy, after all.
The result and details of the game will be unimportant, but if all goes to plan and peace prevails, the real winner will be the free world.
Liberté, égalité, fraternité.