We have put this statement today on the Scottish Episcopal Church website:
The attacks in Paris are a callous and devastating assault on innocent people who were enjoying an evening out in a beautiful city. Our prayers are with all who have lost loved ones, with those who have been injured and with the many who will be traumatised by what they have seen and experienced. We also remember the courage and dedication of members of the emergency services. For every society – including our own – such attacks are a major challenge. Governments have a primary duty to do what is necessary to protect their people. But it is difficult, if not impossible, to protect a civilian population without diminishing the very freedoms – freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech – which are the hallmarks of the kind of free society which we wish to sustain in the face of terrorist threat. This is the time for mourning and for care of those who are suffering. The time will come for debate about how safety and freedom are to be held in balance. As Christians are called to do, we pray for those who have to take these difficult decisions.
Times like this call for the most skilful political leadership. The mistakes are easily made – of which the most obvious is to act in such a way that moderate Islam is driven into the hands of the extremists. Meanwhile I expect that we may begin to see some of the security precautions which were common in Northern Ireland for many years – though how practical they would be in big cities is open to question. That means that you have to wait until they let you in to the restaurant – random searching – and all sorts of measures which simply aim to make it more difficult for the terrorist to strike unhindered. Such measures often look almost pathetically inadequate – but they are a constant reminder to a community under threat that the community needs to be lucky all the time but the terrorist needs to be lucky only once.