Democracy Now! - November 16, 2015

France has entered a third day of mourning after a string of suicide bombings and shootings targeted restaurants, a concert hall and the national soccer stadium on Friday night. The simultaneous attacks killed 129 people and injured hundreds more. It was the deadliest attack on French soil in decades. The worst carnage was unleashed as three gunmen killed at least 89 people at a rock concert at the Bataclan theater before detonating explosive belts. Thousands of Parisians have been gathering to mourn at the Place de la République despite a ban on demonstrations and public gatherings until November 19. Democracy Now! producer Sam Alcoff spoke to people in the square on Saturday.

Authorities said they believed the Paris attacks were carried out by eight assailants, several of whom were French nationals, working in three teams. Seven of the men died in the attacks. A massive manhunt is underway for the eighth—Salah Abdeslam, a Belgian-born French national. Two of his brothers were said to have died in the attack. Authorities also said one of the suicide bombers who blew himself up outside the national stadium was carrying a Syrian passport and his fingerprints matched someone who passed through Greece in October. French authorities carried out 168 raids overnight, making 23 arrests, as part of the investigation. Police in the Belgian city of Molenbeek also carried out a series of raids this morning. We speak with Mira Kamdar, Paris-based member of The International New York Times editorial board, for more on the investigation and aftermath of the attacks.

In retaliation for Friday’s attacks in Paris, France launched its heaviest airstrikes yet against the Syrian city of Raqqa, which has long served as the de facto capital of the so-called Islamic State. Friday’s attacks came just a day after the Islamic State claimed credit for a double attack in southern Beirut that killed at least 43 people, and two weeks after the group claimed responsibility for bringing down a Russian airliner over the Sinai Peninsula, killing all 224 people on board. Over the weekend, French President François Hollande described Friday’s attack as an act of war. Speaking in Turkey at the G20 summit, President Obama described the events in Paris as "an attack on the civilized world." We speak with Vijay Prashad, professor of international studies at Trinity College and columnist for the Indian magazine Frontline, for more on the response to the attacks.

At Saturday’s debate, Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders sparred over the U.S. role in the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State. "I would argue that the disastrous invasion of Iraq, something that I strongly opposed, has unraveled the region completely and led to the rise of al-Qaeda and to ISIS," Sanders said. Clinton admitted her vote for the Iraq War was a mistake but rejected the U.S. role in the rise of ISIS. "I think that there are many other reasons why it has, in addition to what happened in the region, but I don’t think that the United States has the bulk of the responsibility," Clinton said. "I really put that on Assad and on the Iraqis and on the region itself."

Reports of Islamophobia have already emerged following the Paris attacks, and fears of attacks on Muslims in Paris have risen. After al-Qaeda-linked gunmen attacked the magazine Charlie Hebdo in January, there were nearly as many anti-Muslim incidents in the two weeks following the attacks as there were in all of the previous year. More than 220 anti-Muslim acts were recorded in the first quarter of 2015, a sixfold increase over the same period the previous year. The incidents included violent assaults and destruction of Muslim places of worship. For more, we speak with Yasser Louati, spokesperson and head of the International Relations Desk for the Collective Against Islamophobia in France (CCIF).

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