Paris Attacks: Bataclan Update

Isobel’s boyfriend is safe. This is his story and his thoughts three days later, unabridged. Originally published around 7PM Paris time November 16, 2015.

His words after the first heading are reminiscent of the day after one September day fourteen years ago.

Dear World :

I’m the boyfriend of Isobel Bowdery , many around the world have heard her moving story, here is mine.

I’m not usually in the habit of expressing myself via social media, but there are too many things that I just can’t keep inside, and which would keep me from ever sleeping again unless I got them off my chest. I was present at the Bataclan theatre this Friday with my girlfriend when the shooting took place. Like everyone else, I initially thought the gunfire to be harmless fireworks that were part of the show. Everyone got down, I was right in front of the stage.

There I was hit by shrapnel which tore my jean and mildly injured my thigh and back. At that moment I raised my head in order to see what was going on and noticed the silhouette of an armed man, firing rounds. Without really understanding my actions, reacting more by instinct, I started running over people in the crowd, complaining all the way for the little care I put into where I was putting my feet. Clearly they didn’t realise just what was happening.

I jumped over the barrier, swinging my feet over my head, climbed up the stage, and went to take refuge backstage, as far away as possible, all the way to the toilets, looking for an exit that I wouldn’t find. I found myself trapped like a rat.

I was amongst the first people in the crowd to flee and very soon people started piling in. We stayed like this, about fifty of us cramped into fifteen square meters and seven of us in the one square meter of the toilets. I knew that if the killers came to where we were we would all be dead due to our inability to move around. And we stayed like this for the whole duration of the massacre.

I’ll spare you the details of that long, anguished wait, screams and sounds of firing in the theatre, the wounded, the loss of hope and then its return when the firing ceased and a long silence settled in. There are so many things which crossed my mind, above all the idea of death, death at 24…

The people I was stuck with took to reassuring the most anxious among us, sharing what little they had to share, and with that, a sort of desperate optimism took hold of us. Some were saying that if the killers came we had to jump at them whatever the cost.

All the while I was thinking of Isobel, who had without a doubt stayed with the crowd, and I called all those dear to me to tell them everything that went without saying, but which I had never taken the time to tell them. We were shook by an enormous explosion which had burst the pipes. We were flooded by water. At a certain point the suspended ceiling dampened and started falling, provoking anguished jolts all across the small room, anguish which spread all the way out into the hallway.

Knowing that my girlfriend had was in the middle of the crow when the gunmen entered and not being able to reach her, I doubted whether she was still alive (or not).

The police finally arrived, after how long I couldn’t tell, to evacuate us, one by one, hands behind our heads. We had to cross the theatre room of the Bataclan, which had just hours before been so lively. The armoured policemen told us to look at the sealing as we walked towards the exit, but I my eyes swept the room, my stomach churning at the thought of finding Isobel sprawled in the centre of this disaster.

All of the words used by those sensationalist channels designed to transform this massacre into a TV show are nothing compared to the horror I witnessed. I didn’t stop moving, it was brief, but imprinted into my memory forever.

There were bodies everywhere and in particular in front of the stage, there where I was when the massacre started. It wasn’t a war scene, it was a slaughter house.

Once outside I was gripped by the total anguish of not being able to find her. When we finally exited the theatre we were searched one by one , and after some time spent searching the scene, in the end it was she who found me and swung her arms around my neck before I could even notice her. What a relief! It was unreal, she was completely unharmed, she found herself trapped in the worst possible place and she didn’t have a scratch. She’s a f****g miracle case We were safe, for us the terror was over.

This was far from being the case for everybody. Within the security perimeter I saw men and woman who were completely despondent. Their eyes distraught in the face of their loss. All my thoughts and compassion go out to those who were unable to find their friends, to all the mourning families, and to all the bright futures that were demolished that night. I could have one of them.

In the face of (these people) I experienced a feeling which I still have today: an absurd feeling of moral doubt and of a profound selfishness; a certain joy at having survived with out any serious injuries where so many others had died.

And that’s how we survived the Bataclan.

Within this disaster the final bomb exploding is that of images and press circulating in a way that dishonours the victims. I plead you to not sell images and videos of men and woman who are dying to sensationalist, perverse horror channels. They don’t inform anybody of anything and only serve those cowards who came to kill a disarmed crowd.

COME TOGETHER !!!

 

Who knows where tomorrow this could happen again ? The message of the terrorists is clear. From now on it could be anyone, anytime, anywhere. It’ll maybe be in your city. It could maybe be you, your family, or your friends who find themselves in the situation we had go through with so many other innocent people.

It isn’t France which is being targeted, it’s Freedom, your Freedom so I urged you to come together. The war they’re waging is the war of fear. Show them that we’re not afraid and that we won’t fall into the grips of hatred.

Do what we did after the murder of Charlie.

It was that incredible, spontaneous coming together of millions of men and woman which gave us the strength to endure. The will to support each other warmed our hearts, having grown so cold, and kept us from falling apart. France can’t accomplish this right now, the emergency state we’re currently in won’t allow us.

Today we need you. The free world is in need of you. The victims and families in mourning need you in order to stand back up again and get through this ordeal. Come together across the whole world. Let’s show these vile excuse for human beings that they’re alone against millions of human beings standing hand in hand.

MUSLIMS (AROUND THE WORLD) – HAVE NO SHAME !

Whatever your religion may be or whether you’re an atheist, the danger we face lies in division and fear of our neighbour.

MUSLIMS AROUND THE WORLD COME TOGETHER!

Don’t allow yourselves to be confused with a band of thugs. If you allow this to happen they will have won. Make yourselves heard, make it known in a single, unified voice that you don’t stand with them. I’m calling out the Grand Mosque of Paris and to all the Muslims of France and of the world to come together in ways that will make history.

The voice of sickening minds is rising in France and around the world in order to blame you. Come together and be millions to express your disagreement across the world and silence the voices of those who would hold your religion responsible for every evil in the world, and who would cause division and in still doubt amongst those weakest amongst us.

Dear World, I’m proud to be a French citizen attached to the values that my country has longed fought for. The freedom to choose to have or not live by any religion, and that decision to always be respected. My country is hurting today. I am hurting today. The families of the victims are hurting today. I hope from the deepest corners of my heart, so cold right now, that this call is heard.

‪#‎togetherforfrance ‪#‎muslimssupportfrance

Link to original post.

As of this publication, four hours after his post the first hashtag is starting to trend with about 75 posts. The second one retrieves no results from a Twitter search.

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