A French man's video about the Paris attacks last Friday is going viral, and for all valid reasons. Antoine Leiris lost his wife, Helene, in the Nov. 13 attacks on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris. ISIS has since claimed responsibility for the attacks, which left at least 129 people dead. In response to the attacks, Leiris wrote an open letter to his wife's killers on his Facebook page, and he read the letter on camera for BBC News. Leiris' outlook on the tragedy is one we can all learn from — this is how the world should responded to ISIS' claims and propaganda.
Leiris' letter also echoes statements made by French President Francois Hollande on Wednesday. Hollande said that "Our duty is to carry on our lives," while announcing that France would accept more Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks. Leiris, too, stressed that he wouldn't give his wife's killers the satisfaction of hating them. Both Hollande and Leiris' words share a common theme — what ISIS and other terrorists want, with their threats and propaganda, is for people to be scared. They want people to fear that incoming refugee terrorists, or that terrorist attacks could take their lives at any moment. But falling prey to this, and living in fear, is letting ISIS win. And Hollande and Leiris refuse to do that.
"You will not have my hatred," Leiris wrote in his Facebook post. "If I respond to hatred by anger, that would be giving in to the same ignorance that made you what you are. You want me to be afraid, to cast a mistrustful eye on my fellow citizens, to sacrifice my freedom for security." Even in the midst of the incredible tragedy of losing his wife, Leiris won't be overcome by fear, or even hatred. The same is true for Hollande, on a much larger scale.
Many politicians in the United States are hesitant to accept Syrian refugees after the Paris attacks, especially because one of the attackers apparently used a passport from Syria, which was likely fake or stolen, to travel to France. But if France itself, where the attacks occurred, is willing to accept refugees, the United States should be more open to their plight, too. As Leiris explains, living in fear of terrorism, and constantly distrusting others, isn't a good way to live, and it's letting the attackers win. We should take a cue from Leiris, and from Hollande's policy, and continue to see the good in people — that might just be the best way to show ISIS that its plans will never win.
Image: BBC screenshot