From Leeds to Paris with Peace and Love


Naaba Almualem

Global Affairs

To all those who love music,
To all those who love football,
And all those who enjoy chilling on a terrace after work.

Today on the blog, our French specialists have decided to pay tribute to the victims of the Paris attacks by writing an article in memory of those who lost their lives, as well as the friends, families and nations affected. Due to working in the UK, it was only through social media that they heard and saw the horrific event of attacks unfold, and as a result of the physical separation from their families and France itself, the internet played a key role in communication during the vicious attacks last weekend.

What Happened?

Last Friday, the 13th November, was the tragic evening when Paris became the target in a series of terror attacks across various locations, with an unforgiving fatality count leaving 129 dead, with more than 300 injured as well as cases of people still missing. France has declared a state of national emergency, tightening its borders and imposing curfews; this is the first time since WWII that this has happened.

Twitter, A Solidarity Tool

Even after the attacks had taken place, people were still unaware of what had just happened moments before on the same Parisian streets that they were walking down, or even still planning their Friday night out. With no idea of the devastating news, many people in Paris at the time were exposed and at risk.

On Twitter, the hashtag #PorteOuverte (which translates to “open door”) was created, and became that sheer bit of hope that the residents in Paris could rely on and find a safe place to rest at for those affected by the shootings. Especially during these awful events, Paris remained united and taxi services were offering free rides to safe shelters, bringing many to locations away from the areas where the attacks took place.

Over that weekend, more than 600,000 #PorteOuverte tweets were published, allowing people to take shelter through these ‘open doors’.


“Those who can open their doors, geolocalise your tweets to indicate safe shelters” 



A huge thank you to Joël and his family for welcoming us and for their kindness. It warms my heart”


“Twitter, you are awesome. Thanks to you, #OpenDoors helped a lot of people. A little light in a dark day”


The hashtag #rechercheParis (which translates to “search Paris”) was the second most popular term used over the weekend on Twitter.  Hundreds of people went missing during that Friday night and the hashtag allowed families to find loved ones by sharing names, descriptions and pictures online. Twitter became the main hub to share information, messages were shared instantly and replies came in equally as quick – it was the fastest way to get the information out. Even the hospitals also relied on Twitter to identify their patients.

Residents took to Twitter to find their friends, families and loved ones. Julia was searching for her boyfriend Arthur, and in a tweet that was sent out late into the night, she listed key details including his height, hair colour and the clothes he wore that night.


Looking for Arthur, 1m90, blond hair, Slayer tee shirt, black jeans and shoes. Please RT it’s my boyfriend.”



I found my boyfriend, he saw my tweet thanks to your RT ! I will be forever grateful”





Whilst some received the responses they wanted to hear, others unfortunately, did not have the same luck.


“I have no news from my daughter, Lola, who was at the Bataclan during the shootings. Please RT”









“6h38, still nothing”



“I just had confirmation about Lola’s death. Thank you to everyone who helped today”




Even now, days after the attacks, there are still many people missing.

“Hi, I’m still looking for my friend Eli who was at the bar La Belle Equipe during the shootings with my other dead friend”








Below is an overview of the number of times the hashtags have been used since Friday 13th November:

  • #PorteOuverte: 631,000
  • #RechercheParis: 588,000
  • #PrayforParis: 6,931,000
  • #Paris: 3,000,000

Facebook went bleu, blanc, rouge

facebookIn the light of the attacks, Facebook rolled out a new application allowing Facebook users to update their profile picture with an added filter that layered the colours of the French flag on top of the image. Blue, white and red colours began to be featured all across Facebook, making not just a stance by the French but the whole world, standing united to show their support to France.

Only several hours after the terror attacks began, Facebook activated its “Facebook Safety Checks”, allowing people in the targeted areas to check-in and confirm their safety. Once the security of that individual had been verified, a notification was sent to friends and family to keep them updated.

Especially for French citizens working abroad, the tool was particularly useful to find out safety situation of those they cared for. Facebook has said that nearly 5.4 million French people used their safety checks during the attacks proving that it was a tool most people relied on for both their own use as well as that of others.



Facebook has also helped one particular woman find her hero. The life of Picolo Clem’s wife had been saved by one man who helped her hide under the seats at the Bataclan, and also offered protection with his very own body. Although she knew he was safe, she had no further idea of who her hero was, so after she returned home safely, her husband posted a message on Facebook saying they would like to thank him. The message was shared more than 10,000 times, and was later edited to say that they had found their savior and said “they will go for drinks together”.

“A man saved my wife’s life yesterday in the Bataclan by hiding her below seats and by protecting her with his own body. He is safe. He did not know her. His name his Bruno and we would like to thank him.
Edit: We found him. Thank you everyone. We will go for a few drinks soon.”



The world reacts in horror to the night of the attacks in Paris

Throughout the world, a strong message of solidarity was seen and heard. The internet, as well as the popularity of social media during the events, played a huge role in sharing messages before, during and after the attacks, often becoming viral sources of crowd-sourced updates. The internet saw the world mourn the loss of lives and saddened by the unprovoked attacks, with people sharing their thoughts and prayers that also went viral. A new hashtag became popular, #PrayforParis was used seven million times over the weekend, bringing people together on the internet and showing their support.

Source: Jean Julien, Paris, Peace & Love symbol

One drawing in particular began to symbolise the world’s unity, as French artist Jean Julien drew the Eiffel Tower in the peace sign to show his solidarity. The drawing went viral as people all over the world shared the image. The artist was not in Paris at the time of the attacks, but took straight to social media to ensure his friends and family were safe, and after that, felt moved to draw. The symbol has since appeared on flags and prints at memorials.






Following the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, many cities throughout the world decided to light up their landmarks the colours of the French flag whilst the Eiffel Tower was switched-off and closed to visitors.

In the meantime, many cities in the UK followed suit, and shone bright in the colours of the French flag across their famous buildings. From the Edinburgh Castle up north, through to the Brighton Wheel down south, blue, white and red was seen on all major landmarks.






One of the most moving tributes happened at the France-England friendly football game in Wembley on Tuesday 17th. In a strong signal of solidarity to the French nation, everyone in the stadium was urged to sing the French national anthem, La Marseillaise.

Artists from across the globe also expressed their support in drawings, with one in particular that moved us. The next image you will see was created by our colleague Kieran Bell, and stands strong for solidarity.




Source: Kieran Bell, Solidarity


Solidarity and Fraternity

As French citizens, we wanted to pay a tribute through this blog post after the nightmare of last weekend.

We appreciate the support our country has received from all over the world and it’s humbling to see the countries and its people come as one for this. Working abroad can be difficult in general, as you’re apart from friends and family, but especially during horrific events. As such we are thankful for the likes of the internet and social networks that have helped us keep informed and up to date with the details around the attacks.

We want to show our support to everyone who has lost someone in this tragedy, but we also want to pay tribute to victims that lose their lives to terrorism every day. To all the countries across the world, and Beirut for the latest, you are in our thoughts.

Peace and love,

Cédric, Jean-Yves, Maud & Subina