An Open Letter to François’s Killers
In scene from the end of Beyond Hatred, François’s parents read their letter to the three men who killed their son. They say, “We attempted to decipher your logic of hate, but were unable to do so.” They continue: “Courage doesn’t mean attacking the weakest, but being able to face each other.” They end their extraordinary letter by telling the three men that they would like to hear from them.
An open letter to Fabien, Michael and Franck:
We, the parents of François, have decided to write to you today. We don’t know if you’ll read this or if you’ll reply if you do read it. At the end of your trial on October 8, 2004, we already knew we would write to you. We waited several months before doing so, as we wanted to wait for the pressures of the three-day trial to subside.
During those three days, we watched and listened to you. We attempted to decipher your logic of hate but were unable to do so. We attempted to understand the spiral of violence that pushed you into killing our son. François didn’t know you, and you didn’t know him. He trusted you. He believed in man, whatever his color, religion or customs. He didn’t flee from you. Instead, he told you what he thought. You murdered him out of fear and hatred. You caused his life and yours to topple over. You denied his humanity, thus betraying your own. The trial told us about your lives, your family, your friends.
But we also heard from your lips words that suggested something was changing inside you. Know that in spite of our pain and our suffering, we are not driven by any desire for vengeance. Justice was done, and rightly so. We hope for your sake that you will regain your human dignity, the dignity you lost when you killed François.
The family composes the letter with their attorney.
We know that in prison, you are victims and have had violence turned against you. This test will turn you into men capable of thinking and realizing that courage doesn’t mean attacking the weakest, but being able to face each other. We hope you will try and succeed. You must go forward, so you are not trapped forever in that ideology of death: Hatred of someone just because he is different from you. Reading and thinking can help you free yourselves of this. Meeting others will be easier if you learn to know yourselves, with all your wounds, your defects and your other qualities. Through these meetings, learn to love others. They are not necessarily your enemies.
François showed you the way. He personified courage by refusing to respond to violence or be humiliated and instead simply being himself. He truly believed we could co-exist by accepting all that we are and by refusing all that shuts us away. Don’t hesitate to seek help where you are now, so that you may forge a future for yourselves without hatred and violence. We truly wish you success. If you like, please write to us. We’ll certainly reply.