At Easter mass, Parisians pray for Notre-Dame’s swift restoration

A choir perform during a Mass in tribute to the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral at the Saint Eustache church in Paris on Easter Sunday, on April 21, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 21 April 2019

At Easter mass, Parisians pray for Notre-Dame’s swift restoration

  • “We will rise up again and our cathedral will rise up again,” the archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, said at the service

PARIS: With no cathedral to go to, hundreds of Parisians gathered for Easter Sunday mass at the smaller Saint-Eustache catholic church on the city’s right bank, and prayed for the swift restoration of Notre-Dame after its devastating fire.
The archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, began the service by drawing a parallel between the planned reconstruction of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral and the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, celebrated every year by Christians at Easter.
“We will rise up again and our cathedral will rise up again,” he told the congregation, which included the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, and the head of the Paris fire service, General Jean-Claude Gallet.
The mass had originally been scheduled to be held at Notre-Dame, whose spire was destroyed and its roof gutted in Monday’s blaze as rescuers put their lives at risk to salvage the rest of the centuries-old cathedral and its priceless artefacts.
Half way through the mass, Gallet received a minute’s applause from the congregation in tribute to the 400 firefighters who extinguished the blaze, and was then handed a bible that survived the fire.
“We wish to reunite with the faithful, to pray together, hoping that Notre-Dame of Paris is revived as quickly as possible,” said Annie le Bourvellec, a charity worker, as hundreds of worshippers queued outside Saint-Eustache, one of Paris’s biggest churches, ahead of the mass.
Kimon Yiasemiees, a construction litigation expert from Washington D.C., expressed a similar sentiment.
“It is a tragedy, but in any tragedy, you have to look for a hope of renewal,” he said. “And it just shows me that, not only the French people, but people around the world are really in tune to Notre-Dame and to Paris...”
President Emmanuel Macron pledged this week that France would rebuild the cathedral in five years and that the French people would pull together to repair their national symbol.
The destruction of one of the France’s best-loved and visited monuments prompted an outpouring of sorrow and a rush by rich families and corporations to pledge around 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) for its reconstruction.

($1 = 0.8891 euros)


Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

Updated 29 min 22 sec ago

Leading Hong Kong activists charged for Tiananmen vigil gathering

  • Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown
  • China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage

HONG KONG: Thirteen prominent Hong Kong democracy activists appeared in court on Monday charged with holding an unauthorized gathering to mark the Tiananmen Square crackdown, the latest in a string of prosecutions against protest leaders in the restless financial hub.
Last month tens of thousands of Hong Kongers defied a ban on rallies to mark the June 4 anniversary of Beijing’s deadly 1989 crackdown against students pushing for democracy.
The annual vigil has been held in Hong Kong for the last three decades and usually attracts huge crowds. It has taken on particular significance in recent years as the semi-autonomous city chafes under Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian rule.
This year’s vigil was banned for the first time with authorities citing coronavirus measures. At the time local transmission had largely been halted.
But thousands turned out to hold candles in their neighborhoods and in Victoria Park, the traditional site of the vigil.
Police later arrested 13 leading activists who appeared at the Victoria Park vigil.
All appeared in court on Monday to be formally charged with “inciting” an unlawful assembly, which carries up to five years in jail.
Among them are Jimmy Lai, the millionaire owner of the openly pro-democracy Apple newspaper, veteran democracy activists such as Lee Cheuk-yan and Albert Ho as well as young campaigner Figo Chan.
When asked if he understood the charge, Lee invoked the hundreds who were killed by Chinese tanks and soldiers at Tiananmen.
“This is political persecution,” he said. “The real incitement is the massacre conducted by the Chinese Communist Party 31 years ago.”
Some of those charged on Monday — and many other leading democracy figures — face separate prosecutions related to last year’s huge and often violent pro-democracy protests.
China’s leaders have rejected calls to give Hong Kongers universal suffrage and portrayed the protests as a plot by foreigners to destabilize the motherland.
Earlier this month Beijing imposed a sweeping national security law aimed at stamping out the protests once and for all.
The law targets subversion, secession, terrorism and foreign collusion, with sentences including life in prison.
But its broad phrasing — such as a ban on encouraging hatred toward China’s government — has sent fear rippling through a city used to being able to speak its mind.
Police have arrested people for possessing pro-independence or autonomy material, libraries and schools have pulled books, political parties have disbanded and one prominent opposition politician has fled.
The law bypassed Hong Kong’s legislature and its contents were kept secret until the moment it was enacted.
It empowered China’s security apparatus to set up shop openly in Hong Kong for the first time, while Beijing has also claimed jurisdiction for some serious national security cases — ending the legal firewall between the mainland the city’s independent judiciary.
China has also announced global jurisdiction to pursue national security crimes committed by anyone outside of Hong Kong and China, including foreigners.