As some parts of the world prepare to enjoy the festive season, terror-scarred Europe awaits the prospect of large numbers of people gathered for fireworks with grave concern about the possibility of mass-casualty terror atrocities.
The Parisian new year’s eve party last year attracted crowds of more than 600,000, but as the city remains in an official state of emergency it now seems likely the annual sound and light show may be cancelled, with civilians encouraged to stay at home.
Under the state of emergency, gathering in large groups is already forbidden, with police empowered to break up meetings. Deputy mayor of Paris Bruno Julliard has spoken out on the potential cancellation, reports TheLocal.fr, as he remarked: “From a symbolic point of view, it would leave us with heavy hearts if we had to cancel it.
“But if the prefecture of police asks us to cancel it, then we will”.
Other Paris officials expressed their regret at the possibility of cancelling the event in the face of terror threats, but had accepted that it is likely going to happen and the fate of the fireworks show is ultimately in the hands of the security services.
Even if terrorist forces decided to not attack the enormous crowds of people who traditionally gather in central Paris for new year’s, the heightened sense of awareness and perception of danger among civilians may also cause problems.
Just days after the Paris attacks last month, jokers set off fire-crackers near a memorial for the dead and sparked a major stampede. There were a number of injuries as startled people stumbled among the running crowds and glass was smashed. Plain clothes officers with firearms drawn were on the scene in moments.
Calming the nerves of Europeans and freeing them from fear of malicious fireworks like those thrown in Paris are at the forefront of one German hard-left Green party who would see them banned. Remarking that many people are already on the edge after Paris, Hans-Christian Ströbele wanted to see “large fireworks with three to ten times the power of normal bangers” banned.
The Federation of the Pyrotechnic Industry moved to remind the member of parliament that such bangers were actually already illegal in Germany, and were merely smuggled over the open European Union Schengen border from Poland.
While keen to curb the fun of fireworks enthusiasts, Mr. Ströbele no suggestions on how to limit the ingress to Europe of actual terrorists masquerading as asylum seekers of the kind who killed 130 last month.
Follow Oliver Lane on Twitter: Follow @Oliver_Lane or e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org