France put its divisive presidential election on pause to honor Xavier Jugelé, the 37-year-old policeman who was killed in a terrorist attack in Paris last week.
Jugelé’s husband, Etienne Cardiles, delivered a moving eulogy to a crowd of hundreds of officials, officers, and security forces, who had gathered to pay their respects in a ceremony on Tuesday at police headquarters in Paris.
“When the first messages were issued informing Parisians that a serious event was taking place on the Champs-Élysées, and that a policeman had lost his life, a little voice inside told me that it was you,” Cardiles said.
Addressing Jugelé’s killer, Cardiles said: “You will not have my hatred.”
Cardiles borrowed the words from Antoine Leiris, whose wife was among at least 130 people killed in the November 2015 attack on Paris’ Bataclan music hall.
Jugelé had been on duty near the Bataclan when it was attacked.
“This hatred, Xavier, I don’t have it because it is not like you. Because it does not correspond to anything that made your heart beat, nor why you entered the police force,” Cardiles said.
“Because public service, helping others and protecting everyone was part of your education and your convictions. And tolerance, dialogue and patience were your strongest weapons.”
Jugelé was a dedicated LGBT activist and had twice volunteered in Greece, aiding migrants, BFMTV reported.
In his remarks, Cardiles recalled his last moments with his partner.
“Xavier, on Thursday morning, as always, I left for work and you were still sleeping.”
The couple exchanged text messages over the course of the day, discussing their excitement about an upcoming vacation.
“I returned home that evening without you, with an extreme and profound pain, that maybe, one day, will weaken, I don’t know,” Cardiles said, his voice breaking.
“This pain made me feel as close as ever to your colleagues, who are also suffering, as you do too, silently. As I do, silently.”
Jugelé, who was shot on Thursday while sitting at the wheel of a parked police van, was posthumously awarded the Legion of Honor – one of France’s highest honors – by President François Hollande.
In his speech paying tribute to Jugelé, Hollande said that France had lost one of its “most valiant guardians.”
“Your grief is the grief of the Republic,” Hollande said.
Hollande recalled that eight police officers and 14 military police officers had died in the line of duty last year alone.
Cardiles urged law enforcement to keep fighting for peace in the face of these threats.
“I’d like to tell all those who are fighting to prevent events like these from happening that I understand their guilt and their feeling of failure and that they have to keep on fighting for peace,” Cardiles said.
Presidential candidates Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen attended the ceremony.
Looking out from the podium at his partner’s flag-draped casket and a sea of security forces, Cardiles spoke in personal terms about Jugelé’s love for music, film, and theater. He recalled Jugelé playing Britney Spears at high volume, spending whole days at the cinema, and practising his English.
“A life of joy and laughter, in which love and tolerance were your uncontested masters, you lived like a star, you leave like a star,” Jugelé said.