17 January, 2021

Rift Valley

France is caught between lofty ideals and a just hatred for deluded assassins

Rift Valley

Compassion, sorrow. A pang of grief squee­zes everyone’s heart in France. I live with the man who runs the Paris public hospital sys­­­tem. All week I’ve seen dreadful messa­ges pour in: ‘My son, my sister, they wouldn’t be in one of your hospitals, by any chance?’ How many nos for a yes? So much distress in the sender’s SMS. Then, hours later, a new message glows on the screen: ‘We have located Valentin’s body; he was killed at Bataclan.’ He was 17. It was unbearable.

You are not free to be free, the killers tell us. They had chosen their targets well: cafes, concert hall, stadium. Because drinking, singing, playing, enjoying the balmy night on a terrace cafe—all this is intolerable to them. Because thinking and believing (or not) as we wish, that is what is intolerable to them.

I was supposed to be in Bangladesh this week to attend the Dhaka Litfest, where brave young people are fighting for the survival of an open, cosmopolitan festival. But after the murders of the bloggers, many...



To read this piece, and more such stories in India's most exciting and exacting magazine, plus get access to our 25-year archives goldmine, please subscribe.

Latest Magazine

January 25, 2021

other articles from the issue

articles from the previous issue

Other magazine section