Former French president François Hollande slammed US President Donald Trump’s remarks about the 2015 Paris attacks as “obscene posturing”, the foreign ministry expressed “strong disapproval” and former victims have been even more forthright about his claim that one person with a gun could have changed the outcome of the armed Islamist attacks that cost 130 lives.
Trump performed what he believed happened during the attacks, exclaiming “Boom! Come over here. Boom! Come over here. Boom!” before his audience at the US’s National Rifle Association convention.
If one member of staff or the audience at the Bataclan concert hall had been packing a gun, “it would have been a whole different story”, he told them.
Hollande, who was president at the time, called the speech “shameful” and “obscene posturing”.
It “says a lot about what he thinks of France and its values”, Hollande added.
Les propos honteux et les simagrées obscènes de Donald Trump en disent long sur ce qu’il pense de la France et de ses valeurs. L’amitié entre nos deux peuples ne sera pas entachée par l’irrespect et l’outrance. Toutes mes pensées vont aux victimes du 13 novembre.
— François Hollande (@fhollande) May 5, 2018
Former prime minister Manuel Valls wrote on Twitter “Indecent and incompetent. What more can I say?”
And former interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve expressed “indignation and disgust”.
Foreign ministry defends French gun control
Although the government was not quick to respond, earning a call to react from victims’ support group Fenvac, foreign ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll issued a statement on Saturday expressing “strong disapproval” and calling for “respect of the memory of the victims”.
It replied to Trump’s implication that gun control was to blame for the scale of the slaughter.
“The statistics on victims of firearms do not lead us to question France’s choice on the question,” it said. “Free circulation of arms in society does not constitute a defence against terrorist attacks, on the contrary it can facilitate the planning of such at attack.”
There are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths each year in the United States.
Victims’ groups enraged
Victims and their supporters were quick to condemn Trump’s remarks.
Sans commentaire aux propos de @realDonaldTrump déplorables, insultants et d'une violence inouïe pour les victimes. @francediplo doit réagir
Soutien aux victimes du #13novembre une fois de plus ciblées & instrumentalisées @13onze15 @lifeforparis#victimes #ÇaNePassePas
— FENVAC (@FENVAC) May 5, 2018
“Our reaction is first of all disgust over unacceptable clowning around,” Fenvac leader Philippe Duperron told the Huffpost website.
Emmanuel Domenach, the former vice-president of victims’ group 13onze15, was even more forthright in a tweet – and in English:
Dear @realDonaldTrump ,
Go fuck yourself (you can use a gun if you want ) .
— Emmanuel Domenach (@EDomenach) May 5, 2018
In his speech Trump also claimed that a London hospital was a “warzone” because of knife crime, prompting Royal London Hospital trauma surgeon Karim Brohi to say it was “ridiculous” to suggest guns are part of the solution to knife violence.
“Gunshot wounds are at least twice as lethal as knife injuries and more difficult to repair. We are proud of our world-leading service and to serve the people of London,” he said in a statement.