When Georges Salines (Sète, 65 years old) thinks of his daughter Lola – one of the 90 people who were killed on November 13, 2015 in the Islamist attack on the Bataclan concert hall in Paris – good times come to mind , your joy.
“I consoled myself, if it may be said so, with reflections on the brevity of human life. After all, living 100 years or 28 [la edad de Lola al morir] it is more or less the same compared to eternity”, says this retired doctor and fan of running marathons on a terrace in front of the old Palace of Justice on the Ile de la Cité in Paris. “I am infinitely sorry that she is not here and that she does not live what she could have lived, but I have reconciled myself to life without her. I know parents who are no longer living, who cannot go to the movies or on vacation. I do: I have managed to continue living.”
Salines, honorary president of the association 13onze15: fraternité et vérité, and dozens of other parents and relatives of the 131 dead in the attacks on the Bataclan, the terraces of eastern Paris and the Saint-Denis stadium, may be able to cross this Wednesday another stage in the duel. It is the day that Judge Jean-Louis Périès will announce the verdict after almost 10 months of trial, that this Monday he has been seen for sentencing. The prosecution has requested the maximum sentence – irreducible life imprisonment – for the main defendant, Salah Abdeslam, the only member of the commandos who survived.
Salines, who has attended almost all the sessions since September, and already anticipates that he will miss the people he has met and with whom he has lived here these months, explains: “I am identified as someone who manifests humanity and understanding, that he is not angry or hateful towards the accused. But this attitude, in some comments, puts those who feel hate and anger on the same plane. It bothers me. Because I am certain that, quantitatively, it is not true. Among the civil parties or in any case those who have come to testify, the declarations of respect for the rule of law and the absence of hatred are much more numerous”.
The voice that has been heard the most on the side of “hatred and anger” has been that of Patrick Jardin, father of Nathalie, who died in the Bataclan. He was 31 years old. “They say I hate,” Jardin said in court. “Yes, I feel hate. But what is the opposite of hate? Love. And how to love those who have killed your daughter?
The different visions, among the victims, have been expressed until the last moment. Olivier Fisher, who survived the attack on the terrace of the Le Carillon café with an arm injury, lamented on Monday: “There is an overrepresentation of people who are more on the left and prone to distinguishing between the violence of the attacks and the ideology that sustains them. these attempts, political Islam or radical Islam”. And he added: “Many French people think that we must react clearly to radical Islam and break with years of lax immigration policies that allowed some of the defendants to enter Europe.”
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Fisher works as an assistant to a deputy for the National Rally, Marine Le Pen’s far-right party. A few meters away from him, while talking with the journalist, Salines made statements to a television network.
Lola’s father recalled days before, in the interview with EL PAÍS, the words of Orly Rezlan, one of the defense attorneys. “The lawyer raised the question: ‘Why do we admire humanity and not hate?’ And she replied: ‘Hate is easy, one gets carried away by it. Humanity requires an effort, perhaps thinking against itself,” said Salines. “It seemed bright to me.”
But after a while Salines corrects himself: “Honestly, I don’t know if this is true in my case and in that of others.” He affirms that, if he does not hate terrorists, “it is not because of an intellectual position, but something spontaneous”. “The same day [del atentado] what occupied me was an enormous sadness, the sensation of an enormous disaster”, he recalls. And he notes that, parallel to the trial for November 13, 2015, was held for the murder at the hands of two Islamists in July 2016 of the parish priest Jacques Hamel in the church of Saint-Étienne-de-Rouvray, in Normandy . “Father Hamel’s sister said: ‘We were so sad that there was no room for hate.’ It seemed pretty accurate to me.”
Not surprisingly, when Salines appeared as a witness, he made a case for restorative justice that went beyond punishing the guilty. “The criminal process”, he argues, “is necessary, but it does not allow a direct dialogue, without testimonies and without anything at stake in the media or legal consequences, between the victim and the accused. I think it is necessary to offer the possibility to the victims and the accused to meet and say what they have to say”.
Dialogue with the condemned will not happen today or in the short term, admits Salines. But during the process he has had the opportunity to speak with the three defendants who appear freely —that is, they are not in prison—, and in 2020 he published We are left with the words, a dialogue book with Azdyne Amimour, father of Samy Amimour, one of the Bataclan terrorists. With Amimour’s father he has given talks in prisons.
In another book, The unspeakable from A to ZSalines described his daughter in this way: “You liked books, movies, drawing, traveling, rock, dancing, children, Billy the Cat, lemon cake, Belgian beer, drinking brunch at Le Bouillon Belge, sing while playing the ukulele, the roller derby [deporte de patinaje], your friends, your mom, your dad, your brothers, your boyfriend, your girlfriends, kissing, making love. You loved life.”
Forgive the terrorists and their accomplices, those who participated in the attack in which Lola died? “At first I didn’t even consider this question. What was done was done. Fortunately, it was not up to me to condemn. And she adds: “There is another problem: it is my daughter who died, not me. Am I going to forgive in her place? I don’t feel legitimate to forgive. What I believe is that a human being is not reduced to the worst thing he has done in his life. He was wrong, he should be punished for it. But this does not prevent me from considering him a human being or from thinking that he should be punished in such a way that he can never be reintegrated into society”.
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