As midnight approached across the globe on 31st December 2015, celebrations worldwide were somewhat interrupted by the widespread, fears of terrorism, a trend that seems set to continue into the New Year.
Celebrations in Brussels city that has been the focus of the world’s media since the November Paris attacks, were brought to an abrupt halt after three men were arrested on New Year’s Eve, suspected of planning an attack at midnight. Similarly, in Paris, the traditional Eiffel Tower fireworks were substituted for a light show on the Avenue de Champs Elysees, both as a mark of respect towards those who lost their lives in France due to terror throughout 2015, and as a result of the intelligence from Brussels. Armed forces were deployed in the German city of Munich – when many parties were already underway – on suspicion of an ‘imminent armed terrorist incident’; the city’s transport network was closed with immediate effect and many were forced to cancel their plans. Meanwhile, the NYPD carried out what has been described as their largest ever operation, policing the world famous Times Square Ball Drop in the wake of yet another arrest for terror planning offences, a popular tourist bar in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv was targeted by a loner gunman, and terror accusations flew around the internet and world’s media as one of Dubai’s biggest skyscrapers burned.
It seems as if this is something that should have been expected. The word ‘terror’ was hardly out of the headlines throughout 2015, the last 12 months have represented a shift in the ways in which we, our governments and our armed forces approach this tentative, and increasingly widespread subject. Terror has become a part of everyday life across the globe; why should New Year’s Eve have been any different?
It should not come as much of a surprise, therefore, that several influential world figures used their Christmas or New Year messages to confront, condemn and challenge the growing terrorist threat and to stand defiant against its consequences. However, in addition to the more obvious, violent impact ISIS’ actions it appears that politicians are bracing themselves for further humanitarian consequences and consequent political upheaval. Angela Merkel appealed to her country to welcome the approximate one million refugees that have entered Germany in the last twelve months. Warning against xenophobia and racism, she reiterated, “It is important that we do not allow ourselves to be divided”, urging Germans to view this population growth as “an opportunity for the future”.
It is not just when travelling to work or when taking our holidays that we should be aware of the impact of this worldwide political situation; as the attacks increase and the headlines become more shocking, the involvement of everyday people within this political situation – one equivalent to that which would have previously been reserved for armed services and world leaders – will inevitably, concurrently increase. Perhaps 2016 should be approached with the words of France’s President Francois Hollande ringing in our ears: “Nous n’en avons pas terminé avec le terrorisme”. We are not finished with terrorism.