Around 1,000-1,500 Tibetans gathered in front of the France Television office in Paris on Saturday to show their support for the Dalai Lama after a viral video of the spiritual leader sparked controversy online.
The office of the Dalai Lama later released a statement noting that the leader regretted the incident and “wishes to apologize to the boy and his family, as well as his many friends across the world, for the hurt his words may have caused.”
“His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way, even in public and before cameras,” read the statement.
While the video sparked outrage online, the Dalai Lama received solidarity and support from Tibetan leaders and activists around the world.
Members of the local Tibetan community who joined the Paris protest held up posters of the Dalai Lama and shouted slogans in his defense. The participants accused television networks and social media platforms of maligning the leader by misinterpreting the video.
The protest was organized by several Tibetan community organizations in France, including Students for a Free Tibet, Ustang Association of France, Dhomay Association of France, Dokham Chushi Gangdrung, the Tibet Youth Congress and the Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist Associations, among others.
The Tibetan and Himalayan Buddhist Associations alleged China circulated the video to harm the Dalai Lama’s reputation. The Himalayan Buddhist Cultural Association, which also organized its own rally in India, similarly claimed that the video was a conspiracy to tarnish the image of the Dalai Lama.