Monday 23 January 2017

People abusing sacred texts for violence, says President

Published 19/07/2016 | 02:30

Sabina and Michael D Higgins sign the book of condolence for the victims of the Nice tragedy. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Sabina and Michael D Higgins sign the book of condolence for the victims of the Nice tragedy. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

President Michael D Higgins will meet with French president François Hollande on Thursday at Áras an Uachtaráin, where he will personally convey the sympathy and solidarity of the Irish people in the wake of the Nice atrocity.

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Speaking at yesterday's opening of a book of condolence for the victims at Dublin's Mansion House, Mr Higgins said people were "seizing and distorting" sacred texts to commit violence.

"I think it's very important to be patient in trying to understand what lies behind each individual incident," he said about the motivations behind the attack.

"We are in a period of time where, for a whole series of different factors, people are seizing and distorting and very often using pieces of text, often sacred text, and massively abusing these in a way that would be absurd if it didn't have such a violent outcome."

The president and his wife Sabina were the first to sign the book for the 84 dead and scores of injured in the horrific incident, which took place on Bastille Day.

"Citizens were celebrating on what is a great day in France, in the public space, in the public word. For that reason it was a particularly cowardly and incredible act of violence," he said.

Mr Higgins said the right to public life needs to continue for citizens who value democracy, diversity and the ability for people of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate together.

"I spoke to the French ambassador later that night and he conveyed a message to President Hollande," he said.

Mr Higgins said he would be speaking to the French president at Áras an Uachtaráin at around 11am on Thursday, during his visit to Ireland.

"I will have an opportunity to further convey the sympathy of the people of Ireland, the solidarity of the people of Ireland and the value that the people of Ireland place on being able to live in peace," he said.

Mr Hollande is due to visit Ireland for one day.

Irish Independent

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