Beyond Hatred

PBS Premiere: June 30, 2009Check the broadcast schedule »

From Francois' Parents: Open Letter

Candlelight Ceremony

In scene from Beyond Hatred, the Chenu family convenes in the park where François was killed and hold a moving candlelight ceremony in his honor. François's father reads a speech that shows the family's courage and spirit. He says, "We wish to participate in this everyday fight to increase tolerance."

Back and forth you crossed this park, where three young men lay in wait behind some bushes to "do" a gay, having failed to "do" an Arab. You crossed their path. It could have been anyone. Their hatred of others left you no chance.

Today, after the anger and heartbreak, our wounds are still open. But we want your death to help us reflect. You were happy to live. You got along with people easily. Your artistic streak and sensitivity made you appear fragile. But you were strong in your beliefs and in your friendships. You couldn’t conceive of intolerance; you were never militant. You ask us now to look at ourselves, to change our relationships with others.

Every day, we will fight to increase tolerance and respect for difference, for without those two things, society would collapse. It’s unacceptable for political movements to use youngsters, recruiting them with simplistic slogans that designate Jews, Arabs and homosexuals as scapegoats, provoking hatred and justifying violence. It’s also unacceptable that our indifference and prejudice become bedfellows with intolerance, thus making it impossible to escape from victimization and encouraging individual rights over the building of community.

We must all question the way we look at other people in order to increase tolerance and decrease violence. We are with you on this Friday, September 10. Members of your family and your friends have gathered in Léo Lagrange Park for a moment of contemplation. François, we are proud of you.