Antoine Leiris, whose wife was killed when gun-wielding militants invaded a crowded concert hall in Paris, has this message for the killers: “I will not give you the gift of hate.”
Mr. Leiris, a journalist for France Bleu, a network of local and regional radio stations, met his wife, Hélène Muyal-Leiris, 12 years ago, and has been left to raise their toddler son, Melvil, on his own.
Of the 129 people killed during the attacks on Friday, 89 died at the Bataclan concert hall, where Ms. Muyal-Leiris had been attending a rock concert.
In a moving tribute on Facebook that had been viewed more than 90,000 times by Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Leiris said he would not allow his grief to turn into hatred.
Addressing the attackers, he wrote: “You won’t have my hate. On Friday night you took the life of someone exceptional, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but I will not hate you. I do not know who you are and I do not want to know. You are dead inside. If the God for whom you blindly kill really made us in his image, then each bullet in my wife’s body is a wound to his heart.”
He went on: “So I will not give you the gift of hate. Even though it is what you were hoping for, responding to hatred with anger would be to fall to the same ignorance that made you the people that you are. You want me to be scared, to distrust my fellow citizens, and to sacrifice my liberty for security. I will play on.”
Mr. Leiris said he had seen his wife’s body after the massacre, after waiting for several days. “She was as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday night, as beautiful as when I fell forever in love with her more than 12 years ago,” he wrote.
“Of course I am devastated by grief, I will concede you that small victory, but that will not last long. I know that she will watch over us always and that, one day, we will meet again in that paradise of free souls where you will never be admitted.”
He ended on a note of optimism. “Now it’s just the two of us, my son and I, but we are stronger than all the armies of the world. In fact, I do not have any more time to waste on you, I need to go and get Melvil, who is waking up from his nap. He is only 17 months old, he will eat his afternoon tea as always and then we will go and play as always, and this little boy’s entire life will be an affront to you by being happy and free. For he will not hate you either.”