PARIS — A far-right writer and activist shot himself dead in front of the altar of Paris’s famed Notre Dame Cathedral on Tuesday, shortly after calling for “spectacular” action to protect France’s identity.
Police and his publisher confirmed the man’s identity as Dominique Venner, 78, a long-time essayist and activist linked with France’s far-right and nationalist groups.
Police said Venner shot himself with a pistol shortly after 1400 GMT and that the cathedral was then calmly evacuated.
Venner had a long career publishing right-wing essays, military histories and books on weaponry and hunting.
He was a paratrooper during France’s war in Algeria and was a member of the OAS (Secret Armed Organisation), a short-lived paramilitary group that opposed Algeria’s independence from France.
In a final essay on his website Tuesday, he railed against France’s adoption of a law legalising gay marriage and adoption, urging activists to take measures to protect “French and European identities”.
In a possible reference to his suicide, Venner wrote: “There will certainly need to be new, spectacular, symbolic gestures to shake off the sleepiness… and re-awaken the memories of our origins.”
An extreme reaction to equal rights.