A husband who lost his wife in the Bataclan terror attack has posted a heart-breaking open letter to her killers vowing not hate them and to raise their one-year-old son happy and free.
The powerful letter by Antoine Leiris to the terror gang who shot his wife Hélène Muyal-Leiris during the Eagles of Death Metal gig last Friday has been shared thousands of times across the world with its touching message reaching millions.
He also read out the letter to BBC News in Paris.
Writing on the Facebook post about how the gunmen had “stolen” the life of an “exceptional person” and paying tribute to the “love of his life,” Leiris wrote that he would not give the fanatics the “gift” of hatred despite the fact that they had come looking for it.
“You want me to be scared, for me to look at my fellow citizens with mistrust, for me to sacrifice my freedom for safety, you have lost,” he says.
Leiris goes on to say that he will not allow his toddler son Melvil’s life to be disrupted by the terrorist atrocities which left 129 dead and 352 injured.
“He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free,” Antoine writes. “Because you will not have his hatred either.”
The letter has been shared more than 200,000 times on Facebook and hundreds of thousands of times on other sites. Dozens of tributes have been left by friends.
One person: “I have no words. My whole heart goes out to you.”
In his heart-breaking note, Antoine told how he fell in love with his wife 12 years ago and describes saying goodbye to her on Friday night saying she looked “as beautiful” as when they first met.
Read the full transcript of Antoine’s open letter here:
On Friday night you stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won't have my hatred.
I don't know who you are and I don't want to know - you are dead souls. If this God for which you kill indiscriminately made us in his own image, every bullet in the body of my wife will have been a wound in his heart.
So no, I don't give you the gift of hating you. You are asking for it but responding to hatred with anger would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are.
You want me to be afraid, to view my fellow countrymen with mistrust, to sacrifice my freedom for security. You have lost.
I saw her this morning. Finally, after many nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as when she left on Friday night, just as beautiful as when I fell hopelessly in love over 12 years ago.
Of course I'm devastated with grief, I admit this small victory, but it will be short-lived. I know she will accompany us every day and that we will find ourselves in this paradise of free souls to which you'll never have access.
We are two, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world.
I don't have any more time to devote to you, I have to join Melvil who is waking up from his nap. He is barely 17-months-old. He will eat his meals as usual, and then we are going to play as usual, and for his whole life this little boy will threaten you by being happy and free. Because no, you will not have his hatred either.