THE THOUGHTS of people across south Warwickshire have this week been with those across the channel following the terrorist attacks in Paris.
Many joined the rest of Europe on Monday in a minute’s silence to remember those who lost their lives during the atrocities on the streets of the French capital three days earlier.
But while the world has united in grief and condemnation, a defiant message has been sent to the terrorists that they will not win.
Kenilworth and Southam MP Jeremy Wright – who as Attorney General recently advised Prime Minister David Cameron on the legality of drone strikes in Syria – was clear on what needed to be done.
He told The Observer: “These were attacks not just on the people of Paris, but also on the freedoms essential to our way of life. We should keep the dead and injured in our thoughts but also take action to defend those freedoms.
“It’s going to be important now to ensure we strike the right balance between giving those who keep us safe the tools they need to do so and maintaining the central freedoms we value and which the terrorists hate.”
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi’s family fled to the UK from Iraq in 1976 when he was nine during Saddam Hussein rise to power.
Mr Zahawi said: “My thoughts and prayers of course go out to the people of Paris, and the families and loved ones of those murdered. France will grieve, but it can do so in the knowledge that their friends around the world will not abandon them, as they wouldn’t us.
“Today our job is to remember the victims of the Paris attacks, and honour them by upholding our common universal values of respect, dignity and freedom.”
Warwick and Leamington MP Chris White was equally adamant the terrorists would not succeed in destroying democracy.
He said: “The outpouring of genuine emotion in the wake of the attacks is indicative of international solidarity and condemnation.
“It is clear that there are no limits this evil organisation will go to in attacking our values and way of life. Of course, we must take a measured approach in our response but the perpetrators of this most recent atrocity must know that there will be a response.
“Our sense of freedom and democracy will not be weakened and are built on too strong a foundation.”
The attacks by the Islamic extremists have met with condemnation by law-abiding Muslims.
Mohhamad Salim, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in Leamington, said: “We condemn the actions of extremists wherever they may be, whatever their cause.
“We are with the people of France in sharing their pain. This was an outrageous attack on the peaceful innocent members of the public and they are in our thoughts and prayers.
“We consider this to be not just an attack on France but on the entire humanity and we express our condolences to the families of the bereaved and pray for the fast recovery of all those injured.”
“We ask the world to unite against this menace and to work to eliminate all forms of extremism.
“We believe in love for all and hatred for none, and peaceful dialogue is the only way to cultivate understanding and harmony between people.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those murdered in Paris.”
Those with friends in France have also offered their support. Leamington is twinned with Sceaux – a southern suburb of Paris, just six miles from the city centre.
Peter Cantlay from Leamington International Twinning Society said: “It is not absolutely certain at this time whether anyone from Sceaux have been affected but we have been in contact with them and they appear ok.
“The society have sent letters to them showing our solidarity and support as well as expressing our shock that such terrible events have happened.”