A well-known and extreme right-wing activist in France shot himself inside Paris's iconic Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday, possibly as a protest against a new gay marriage law. The writer and activist, Dominique Venner, entered the cathederal around 4:00 p.m. local time, approached the altar, and shot himself with a pistol he was carrying, leading to an evacuation of the historic building.
Earlier in the day, Venner made a final post on his blog that denounced "that detestable Taubira law," referring to Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who helped orchestrated a new law passed month that legalized same-sex marriage and adoption in France. Referring to an upcoming May 26 protest against the law, Venner writes that "It is not nice enough to organize street protests to prevent it... It certainly will require new, spectacular and symbolic gesture to shake the sleepiness, shaking anesthetized consciousness and awaken the memory of our origins. We are entering a time when words must be authenticated by acts." (Translation via Google Translate.) He also reportedly left a suicide note at the scene.
Venner, 79, was a long time-activist who fought in France's war in Algeria in the 1960s, as was briefly jailed as a member of a paramilitary group fighting to prevent Algerian independence. He was a staunch opponent of the movement for marriage equality in France and had also written about a "clash of civilizations" between Europeans and Muslims, saying in 2011, "What is at stake is not a question of regime or society, right or left, but a vital question: to be or to disappear." He also wrote numerous historical books, mostly about military history and weaponry.
The rector of the cathedral, Monsignor Patrick Jacquin, said he believed it was the first time anyone had committed suicide within the 850-year-old landmark. While Venner did not predict his suicide in his final post, or explicitly blame the gay marriage law, it did contain one final ominous remark:
It is here and now that our destiny is played until the last second. And this final seconds are as important as the rest of a lifetime.