Breaking News Emails
A message written to the terrorists who carried out attacks across Paris last week — from a man who lost his wife and the mother of his baby — has touched thousands of people, and in response those people are reaching out to the grieving widower.
"You will not have my hatred," declared Frenchman Antoine Leiris in a letter to the assailants who killed 130 people, including his wife, Helene Muyal-Leiris, on Nov. 13 in a coordinated series of shootings and bombings.
Leiris told NBC News that when he posted the message to Facebook in French, he didn't expect for it to get much attention.
"I didn't know it would touch so much people, and so deeply," Leiris said.
But the post was shared by thousands, and reached even more people when Leiris read his message out loud in English to the BBC.
In the letter, Leiris said he is "devastated" by the death of his wife, who he described to NBC News as "the most fiery brunette in the world, with huge eyes and kindness." Muyal-Leiris was killed in the siege at the Bataclan theater that left 88 other people dead.
Leiris wrote that his grief is the one "little victory" that he will allow the assailants, but "I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."
"You're asking for it, but responding to hatred with anger is falling victim to the same ignorance that has made you what you are," Leiris continued.
Leiris also wrote that the terrorists will not be granted the hatred of his 17-month-old son, Melvil, because the child will always know his mother.
"I know that she will be with us every day and that we will find ourselves again in this paradise of free love to which you have no access," Leiris wrote.
Leiris said Melvil "feels the pain, the missing ... but we are together." The father and son have also received the support of thousands who reached out after reading Leiris' words of resolution.
"I will not grant you the gift of my hatred."
People from all over the world contacted Leiris.
"I was really touched by the messages I received. Really, deeply ... I never imagined that I can be so moved by these messages," said Leiris, who has been turning to the notes as a form of comfort when he can't sleep.
Leiris said he initially posted the letter to Facebook to serve as a reminder to himself not to succumb to anger, but now he realizes "the words belong to everybody — everybody owns it, they're not mine."
"Read it for you, for your kids," said Leiris.
In appreciation, many have contacted Leiris wanting to know how they could help the widower who helped them with his message of hope. A friend of the family has set up a GoFundMe page, but Leiris said "words are enough ... they are treasures already."