What are the views of Evangelical Focus readers on the refugee crisis, marriage, ecumenism, sexual exploitation and the reliability of the Bible? We have selected the answers to some of the questions asked on our website.
Russia’s attack comes after admitting plane was downed by a bomb. Mogherini: “France has been attacked, so the whole of Europe has been attacked.” Children go back to school in Paris.
Four days after the shootings and suicide bombings in bars, restaurants, a concert hall and the national sports stadium, French authorities keep trying to finish with the Brussels-based terror cell that carried out the attacks - the worst in France since World War II.
The Defence ministry has confirmed warplanes carried out fresh raids overnight in Syria. “For the second time in 24 hours the French military conducted an air raid against Daesh in Raqqa in Syria.”
The raid was carried out just after midnight in western Europe, with 10 Rafale and Mirage 2000 fighters dropping 16 bombs. “Both targets were hit and destroyed simultaneously”, the statement explained.
Conducted in coordination with US forces, the raid was aimed at sites identified during reconnaissance missions previously carried out by France. President François Hollande announced in a speech on Monday that France will deploy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle on Thursday, which will triple its air strike capacity.
RUSSIA ALSO ATTACKS
According to a senior French government source of Reuters, later confirmed by Moscow, Russia has staged air strikes on Raqqa too.
“At this moment, the Russians are in the process of strongly hitting the city of Raqqa, which is proof that they too are becoming conscious [of the threat from Islamic State],” the source said.
A US defence official has also told AP that Russia informed Washington as it ramped up its air strikes on Syria, using sea-launched cruise missiles and long-range bombers. But they stressed that there was no co-ordination between the two countries.
Hollande on Monday called on the US and Russia to join a global coalition to “destroy” Daesh, telling MPs and senators France was “at war … against jihadist terrorism which is threatening the whole world.”
“UNEQUIVOCALLY, A TERRORIST ATTACK”
The Russian raid in Raqqa comes after a Kremlin meeting on Monday night, where Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s FSB security service, and President Vladimir Putin confirmed that traces of foreign-made explosive had been found on fragments of the downed plane and on passengers’ personal belongings.
“According to an analysis by our specialists, a homemade bomb containing up to 1 kilogramme of TNT detonated during the flight, causing the plane to break up in mid-air”, explained Bortnikov.
“We can unequivocally say it was a terrorist act”, Bortnikov added.
“Seventeen people are being held, two of them are suspected of helping whoever planted the bomb on the plane at Sharm el-Sheikh airport”, one of the officials said.
Putin argued the incident was one of the bloodiest acts in modern Russian history and ordered the Russian air force to intensify its air strikes in Syria in response.
He has ordered the country’s secret service to search for those responsible for blowing up the plane, he said the effort to bring them to justice should be exhaustive. “We will search for them everywhere wherever they are hiding. We will find them anywhere on the planet and punish them,” Putin said.
FRANCE ASKS FOR EU HELP
During the EU meeting that is taking place in Brussels, France has invoked Article 42.7 of the Treaty of the European Union, which says that all member states have an "obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power" towards another that is the "victim of armed aggression on its territory".
French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said EU partners could help “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq, or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations.”
“France cannot act alone in these theatres”, Le Drian added.
MOGHERINI: "...THE WHOLE EUROPE HAS BEEN ATTACKED"
"Today the EU, through the voices of all the member states, unanimously expressed its strongest full support and readiness to give the assistance needed", EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini confirmed after the meeting.
"France has been attacked, so the whole of Europe has been attacked, Europe is the framework for our solidarity" said Ms Mogherini.
"France will be in contact bilaterally in coming hours and days to express the support it requires and the EU will ensure the greatest effectiveness in our common response", she concluded.
France is the first nation to invoke article 42-7 in the treaty, which requires all states to offer aid and assistance “as they are able.”
The first measure taken came from the EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici. He explained in a news conference that France will suffer no penalties for missing budgetary targets, in order to spend more on security.
115,000 POLICE AND MILITARY MOBILISED
“France has mobilised 115,000 police, gendarmes and soldiers in the wake of Friday's Paris attacks by Islamic militants”, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has said.
“128 more raids on suspected militants were carried out”, Cazeneuve added.
Raids led to 23 arrests and the seizure of weapons including a rocket launcher.
A huge manhunt is also under way for one of the suspects, Salah Abdeslam. He is believed to have fled across the border to his native Belgium.
French media reported that during raids police found a safe house used by the attackers in Bobigny, a suburb of Paris. At the same time, German media reported the arrests of five people near Aachen, on the Belgian border and in Alsdorf, in two operations linked to the attacks.
Meanwhile, in Belgium, two men who had been charged in Belgian with terror offences have admitted picking up a Paris attack suspect Salah Abdeslam from the French capital early on Friday morning, but deny aiding the bombers.
All this, on a day when the Eiffel Tower has closed again, one day after it reopened. Eiffel Tower spokeswoman, Marthe Ozbolt, has not given a reason, but alluded to the current situation in the city.
French schools have opened again and children are back to classes.
Hollande extended France’s state of emergency to three months, announced the recruitment of 8,500 additional police and security personnel, pledged no further defence cuts before 2019, and demanded changes to the constitution to allow authorities to better counter terrorism.