It was nighttime in Paris but nobody was sleeping.
Over 100 people have been confirmed dead by police after a series of frightening attacks across the French capital.
A gunman with a semi-automatic weapon has opened fire in a busy bar, there have been multiple explosions at a major football stadium where a soccer match was underway and more than 100 hostages were held in a concert hall in the eastern parts of Paris. It is believed that the gunmen executed the hostages one by one, with some managing to escape.
From what should have been an evening of champagne, soccer and symphonies, the world’s most romantic city has been shifted into a siege mentality. From the distance of a safe, sunny morning in Australia, the scale of this – still ongoing – horror is almost too large to comprehend. As journalist Jodie Speers tweeted earlier, imagine attacks on Sydney’s Pitt Street Mall, the Horden Pavilion and ANZ stadium all in a single night. That is the nightmare Parisians are living this very moment.
In the wake of what appears to have been a carefully coordinated series of terrorist attacks, France has closed its borders.
A state of emergency has been declared for the first time since World War II.
The depth of this depravity, the sheer brutality with which these attacks have been conducted cannot help but leave you feeling utterly defeated. We’re watching the very worst of humanity present itself in painfully sharp technicolour on our television, computer and smart phone screens.
It’s soul destroying and yet, who can look away?
But even among immeasurable tragedy and darkness, hope somehow manages to stand its ground. And tonight, hope comes in the form of thoughts and prayers from citizens all over the world, including Parisians themselves who have started the hashtag #PorteOuverte on social media.