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Man commits suicide in Paris cathedral

PARIS (Agencies): Right-wing French historian and essayist, Dominique Venner, committed suicide in the historic Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris, France, i front of some 1,500 horrified people on May 21. 

The Guardian newspaper cited local media reports as saying that the 78-year-old Venner, walked into the building at 4.00pm and placed a letter on the altar before shooting himself through the mouth. Visitors were immediately evacuated from the site, which is the most visited Catholic monument in Paris.

The rector of Notre Dame, Monsignor Patrick Jacquin, was quoted as saying it was the first suicide in decades at the cathedral and perhaps the first time anyone had taken their own life inside the building. He said, “It is unfortunate, it is dramatic and it is shocking.”

Venner, was a former paratrooper and member of the Secret Army Organisation which opposed Algerian independence in the early 1960s and waged a campaign of terror against the government of Charles de Gaulle. 

CNN reported on May 23 that he had apparently vented his anger in a final posting on  his blog on May 21 over the recent legalisation of same-sex marriage, which he called vile.

He also referred to a rally against the new law, planned for May 26, and said the demonstrators were “right to shout their impatience and anger” and that laws could be overturned if the people shouted loudly enough.

He also wrote that “new gestures, spectacular and symbolic” were needed to “reawaken the memory of our origins.”

He added, “We’re entering a time where words should be authenticated by actions.”

Notre Dame, which receives some 13 million visitors each year, is in the middle of yearlong celebration commemorating its 850th anniversary. 

Writing in the French daily newspaper, Libération, Christophe Forcari said, “Venner’s models were ancient Greece and ancient Rome, he was a pagan and an anti-Christian, but chose a highly symbolic place of western civilisation to kill himself.” 

French Catholic leaders have been outspoken as they led opposition to the country’s same-sex marriage law, signed by the president, François Hollande, on May 18. 

Hollande had made the legislation his flagship social reform, but the move triggered the biggest conservative and right-wing street protests in 30 years, followed by skirmishes near parliament that led to more than 200 arrests.


France is the ninth country in Europe and the 14th globally to legalise same-sex marriage.

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