May 22 - Notre Dame cathedral in Paris is evacuated after a far-right former activist shoots himself before its main altar. Paul Chapman reports.
French police sealed off Notre Dame cathedral after a former far-right activist shot himself inside the tourist landmark. Dominique Venner killed himself in front of the main altar. Shortly before doing so the 78-year-old had urged readers of his blog to protest against gay marriage. Visitors waiting outside the cathedral spoke of their shock. (SOUNDBITE) (French) CATHEDRAL VISITOR PRINCE SALABANZI, SAYING: "Well it was a bit of a panic. A person arrives in front of the altar - Notre Dame is one of the most visited monuments in France with many people entering at all times - the man, without any notice, arrives and shoots himself in the head. For sure that's shocking so it's a trauma which will stay for everyone, so they emptied the cathedral of its visitors." Venner was a historian known for his far-right political essays. He'd been a fierce opponent of gay marriage which became legal in France on Saturday.