Two weeks ago I went to Paris to meet with members of the Families Against Extremism and Terror (FATE) Network. I was there to meet with mothers and siblings who had lost their children to ISIS. Their families had been touched by extremism at the deepest level, their sons and brothers had joined the ranks of what’s currently the most hated terrorist group of the world, yet they stood up to fight, if only one person could be saved from going down the path of their kids the loss’d at least get some sort of meaning, they said.
It was moving to meet with others who’s lives have been radically shaped by extremism against their will or doing, it was even more interesting to sit by the table and over dinner get to know the sons of these mothers, to get to know them as sons of their mothers, as human beings rather than as the terrorists they so often are portrayed as in the media.
It was also great meeting a father who’d lost his daughter just months ago in the attack on the Bataclan theatre. Bataclan was the first place I had to go when arriving in Paris, to pay my respect to the victims and what happened there in November and to honour the purpose of my visit to Paris – to do whatever I could so as few as possible would have to experience what those who were there in November, similarly to what we experienced in 2011 on Utøya, again. The father was standing side by side with parents of children who’d been on the other side of the attack, and they were united in their determination to make sure no more children, no more brothers, no more friends would be taken away by extremists one way or the other. We are all devoted to the task at hand, putting an end to violent extremism. I was proud and honoured to stand there with them.
In addition it was good to get to sit down and grab a pint and dinner with my awesome Patreon supporter Louise Massol who lives and work in Paris.
Next up on the agenda is a meeting with politicians, activists, former extremists and myself in Antalya here in Turkey!
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