Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : September 8th 2013 Contents A45
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News agency Agence France-Presse has said it was
wrong to withdraw an unflattering picture of French
leader Francois Hollande after it was widely posted on
social media sites.
The photograph was pulled for editorial reasons and
not because AFP had come under pressure from the
French presidency, it said.
Reuters news agency, which also killed the picture,
has not reacted yet.
The photograph was taken during a visit at a school in
In a blog post, AFP's global news director Philippe
Massonnet says: "With the benefit of hindsight we see
that the decision to retract the photo was clearly an
"The order to kill the photo ironically breathed new life
into this saga, and led to the image being massively
shared across social networks in France, often
accompanied by unkind comments about AFP."
Since coming to office, Mr Hollande has struggled to
boost his popularity, earning the nickname Flanby (a
wobbly caramel pudding). Newspapers described his
appearance in Tuesday's image as "gormless" or "simple-
Decision to kill Hollande photo 'an error'
VATICAN CITY---Tens of thousands of peo-
ple filled St Peter s Square for a four-hour
Syria peace vigil late yesterday, answering
Pope Francis call for a grassroots cry for
peace that was echoed by Christians and
non-Christians alike in Syria and in vigils
around the world.
The Vatican estimated about 100,000 took
part in the Rome event, making it one of the
largest rallies in the West against proposed
US-led military action against the Syrian
regime following the Aug 21 chemical
weapons attack near Damascus.
Francis spent most of the vigil in silent
prayer, but during his speech he issued a
heartfelt plea for peace, denouncing those
who are "captivated by the idols of dominion
and power" and destroy God s creation
"This evening, I ask the Lord that we
Christians, and our brothers and sisters of
other religions and every man and woman
of good will, cry out forcefully: Violence and
war are never the way to peace!" he said.
"May the noise of weapons cease!" he
said. "War always marks the failure of peace,
it is always a defeat for humanity."
In Damascus, a few dozen Syrian Christians
attended a service in the al-Zaytoun Church,
joining Francis invitation for a global par-
ticipation in the day of fasting and prayer
and to oppose outside military intervention
in the conflict.
Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregorios III
Laham of Antioch and All East presided,
saying most countries supported a political
solution to the crisis in Syria and few wanted
military action. "This is the start of the vic-
tory," he told the Damascus faithful. "No to
war. Yes for peace."
Francis announced the day of fasting and
prayer September 1, alarmed at the acceler-
ation of US threats to strike Syria after the
chemical weapons attack.
Since then, the Vatican has ramped up its
peace message, summoning ambassadors for
a briefing by the Holy See foreign minister
this week. Francis appealed directly to world
powers at the Group of 20 meeting in Russia,
urging them to abandon the "futile pursuit"
of a military solution in Syria and work
instead for a negotiated settlement.
Bishops around the world joined Francis
in the daylong fast and organised similar
vigils in their home dioceses.
Vatican officials have stressed that yes-
terday s event was religious, not political.
But the gathering nevertheless took on the
air of an anti-war rally, with protesters holding
up Syrian flags and banners in the square
reading "Don t attack Syria" and "Obama
you don t have a dream, you have a night-
mare." A few rainbow "peace" flags fluttered
in the breeze.
But by the time the vigil got under way,
the posters and flags had mainly disappeared
as a more religious tone took over, with lead-
ers from a variety of Christian and non-
Christian denominations joining cardinals,
politicians and ordinary folk for the evening
of prayer, hymns and meditation.
"This is already a success, the fact that all
of us are here, Hindus, Christians, Buddhists,
atheists," a Hindu believer named Anata said.
Pilgrims "made an effort to fast, not to do
many things, and come here from all over
Italy and Europe. This is already a success."
The peace vigil marked something of a
novelty for the Vatican: Nothing of its kind
has ever taken place in St Peter s Square,
though popes past have participated in day-
long peace prayers in places like Assisi, known
for its peace-loving native son and the pope s
namesake, St Francis. (AP)
A Syrian woman lights a candle during a prayer vigil for peace at the Lady of Dormition Catholic patriarchal cathedral in the old city of
Damuscus, yesterday. AFP PHOTO
Prayer for peace
'100,000 attend vigil for Syria'
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