Luc Besson Addresses France's Muslim Community in Open Letter

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Luc Besson

"In working, studying, taking up a pencil rather than a Kalashnikov, democracy offers you the tools to defend yourself," wrote the director

Director Luc Besson addressed the terrorist tragedy in an open letter to Muslim youths as millions marched in Paris and across France over the weekend.

In an open letter published in the newspaper Le Monde, the French director behind the summer blockbuster Lucy urged disenfranchised young people to pick up pens instead of guns and implored the French government to come up with education and employment solutions to help alienated youth.

"My brother, if you knew how much I hurt for you today, you and your beautiful religion defiled, humiliated, pointed at," he began addressing Muslims, whom he felt were being unfairly associated with the jihadist attackers in Paris. "It is unfair, and we will all stop this injustice."

He said the world understands that the first two gunmen — Said and Cherif Kouachi, who killed 12 in the first attack on the Charle Hebdo newspaper offices Wednesday — are not representative of Islam. "Know that these two bloody brothers today are not yours, and we all know it."

He continued, calling on leaders to come up with educational and economic solutions to help alleviate discrimination that leads to alienation among Muslim youth in France. "I appeal to the powerful, the bosses, the leaders. Help the young, humiliated and atrophied [community] just waiting to be part of our society. The economy is at the service of man and not the reverse," he wrote. "We cannot build happiness on the misfortune of others. This is not Christian, Jewish or Muslim. It is selfish, and it leads our society and our planet straight into a wall."

Besson then called on Muslim youth to pick up a pen instead of a gun. "You also have a job," he wrote. "In working, studying, taking up a pencil rather than a Kalashnikov, democracy offers you the tools to defend yourself."

"It costs 250 euros to buy a Kalashnikov, but it's only 3 euros to buy a pen, and your response will have a thousand times more impact." He added that radical preachers were using impressionable youths for their own advantage.

Expressing unity with the Muslim community, he concluded: "Tomorrow, my brother, we will be stronger, more connected, [with] more solidarity. I promise. But today, my brother, I cry with you."

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