World leaders stunned by Notre-Dame fire, urge rebuilding

Paris, France | AFP | 

Political, cultural and religious leaders around the world voiced shock at seeing Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral devoured by flames.

A picture taken on April 16, 2019 shows an interior view of the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris in the aftermath of a fire that devastated the cathedral. – The Paris fire service announced that the last remnants of the blaze were extinguished on April 16, 15 hours after the fire broke out. Thousands of Parisians and tourists watched in horror from nearby streets on April 15 as flames engulfed the building and rescuers tried to save as much as they could of the cathedral’s treasures built up over centuries. (Photo by – / AFP)

They stressed the unique and iconic place the monument has in human history and expressed solidarity with France.

Here is a summary of some of the major reactions.

  • Vatican: mobilise –
    “I hope the Notre-Dame cathedral may once again become, thanks to reconstruction work and the mobilisation of all, a jewel in the heart of the city.”
  • Pope Francis

Read: Notre-Dame: the problems with insuring a national monument

  • EU: humanity –
    Notre-Dame “belongs to the whole of humanity. It has inspired writers, painters, philosophers and visitors who have come from all round the world.”
  • EU Commission head Jean Claude Juncker
  • UN: ‘horrified’ –
    UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by the fire. UNESCO head Audrey Azoulay said the cathedral “represents an architectural, cultural and religious heritage, a unique literary heritage that speaks to the whole world.”
  • Trump: ‘Horrible’ –
    “So horrible to watch the massive fire at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. Perhaps flying water tankers could be used to put it out. Must act quickly!”
  • US President Donald Trump

Read: Dutch maestro Rieu pledges 700 tonnes of steel for Notre-Dame

  • China: treasure –
    Chinese President Xi Jinping said his country was “deeply saddened” by the fire, state media reported. He called the building an “outstanding treasure of human civilisation”.
  • India: shock –
    Prime Minister Narendra Modi “conveyed his shock and sadness” over the fire and “expressed India’s solidarity with President and people of France on this national loss.”
  • Indian Foreign Minister spokesman
  • Russian ‘sadness’ –
    “Notre Dame is a historic symbol of France, a priceless treasure of European and world culture, one of the most important Christian sites. The tragedy that occurred overnight in Paris leaves sadness in Russians’ hearts.”
  • President Vladimir Putin

Read: Counting the losses: what we know about Notre-Dame’s treasures

  • Germany: European symbol –
    “Notre-Dame is not only a symbol of Christianity in France, it is also our shared European heritage.”
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Queen ‘saddened’ –
    “Prince Philip and I have been deeply saddened to see the images of the fire which has engulfed Notre-Dame Cathedral. My thoughts and prayers are with those who worship at the cathedral and all of France at this difficult time.”
  • Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II
  • Orthodox prayers –
    “I offer prayers to God so that he will help overcome the consequences of the fire and restore the cathedral to its former glory in the near future.”
  • Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill
Belgian king skips re-opening of 'looted' Africa museum

Read: YouTube accidentally links Notre-Dame fire to 9/11 attacks

  • Anglicans: sacred place –
    “Tonight we pray for the firefighters tackling the tragic Notre Dame fire — and for everyone in France and beyond who watches and weeps for this beautiful, sacred place where millions have met with Jesus Christ.”
  • Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby
  • Iran: ‘one God’ –
    Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif, said his thoughts were with “the French and all Catholics,” calling the cathedral “that iconic monument dedicated to the worship of our one God and that brought all of us closer through (Victor) Hugo’s literary masterpiece.”
  • Jewish congress: ‘icon’ –
    “Notre Dame has for centuries stood proud and tall as an inimitable icon, a symbol of the country’s great culture and history. We pray that… the destruction can be restored to allow this unparalleled structure to return to its position of symbolic majesty on the Parisian skyline.”
  • World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder
  • Iraq: familiar pain –
    “Iraqis uniquely appreciate the pain, sense of loss afflicting the people of France as we have recently experienced destruction of much of our national cultural heritage.”
  • Iraqi President Barham Saleh
  • Obama: stay strong –
    “It’s in our nature to mourn when we see history lost -– but it’s also in our nature to rebuild for tomorrow, as strong as we can.”
  • US ex-president Barack Obama


© Agence France-Presse

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