Eagles of Death Metal‘s Jesse Hughes, a survivor of the Nov. 13 terrorist attack during his band’s concert at Le Bataclan in Paris, has offered some contentious thoughts on the massacre that left 89 concert-goers dead. In one interview, Hughes implied he thought the venue’s security had conspired with the terrorists; shortly thereafter, he apologized for his comments.
But then in another interview, published earlier this month in Taki’s Magazine, Hughes restated that interpretation and claimed to have witnessed Muslims “celebrating in the street during the attack…How did they know what was going on? There must have been coordination.”
Two French music festivals dropped Eagles of Death Metal due to Hughes’ comments last week. Now, an open Facebook letter addressed to Hughes from a fellow Bataclan survivor has gone viral. Written by Ismael El Iraki — who has previously spoken about the tragedy and his continued love for live rock music following the attacks — on May 24, the letter disputes Hughes’ version of events in the “tacky Taki interview” and blasts Hughes’ “stupidity” and “racism.”
“So you say the security crew was in on it and was warning every Arab they saw,” he wrote. “See, as you can see on this picture some guy took at the scene a few minute before your show began, I happen to be an Arab and to look very much like one. I got a big black curly beard and the skin tone to match it. I also happen to live and breathe rock n’ roll…and I could not look more Muslim if I tried. But apparently, the big bad Muslim conspiracy missed me. Damn, they forgot to warn me. They also forgot to warn Djamila, and all the other Arabs who got shot and killed that very night. They forgot to warn my fellow Moroccan Amin, who was shot that very night.”
His letter goes on to say that one of the night’s true heroes was a Muslim attendee who helped others flee the venue, exited the building and then returned inside to help more people escape.
“What pains me most is that you do not even realize that a huge number of us who managed to get out alive of this horrible ordeal owe our lives to a Muslim guy. His name is Didi and he opened the left front door most of us got out of. This guy did something that neither you, me, or anyone else I ever met would ever have done.
“You know what he did, this Arab guy, this Muslim? He opened the left front door, let a shitload of people out, and then, while he was safe and sound in the street outside, HE WENT BACK IN. He turned back, and headed back in to save more people. He opened the upstairs exit and let a number of people out through there. That guy, as I said, was nothing like you. Or me.
“He was a fucking hero. An unarmed, red-blooded, real-life fucking hero that you just insulted with your racist, hateful comments. You, who are not a hero. You who are, just like me, just a regular guy who happened to be caught in an awful situation and did whatever he could to get out of it and try to help some people around him.”
The letter ends with a plea to Hughes. “Rock ‘n’ roll is love, man. LOVE. Look at yourself: you have become a spreader of hate, brother…. I hope you can realize how wrong that shit you spread is, hope you can see all the wrong that you are doing.”
You can read the full post on his Facebook page, which is being inundated with comments — many praising his letter, many targeting him with hateful language.
Billboard reached out to a rep for Eagles of Death Metal for comment.