In Lyon, a conference on Palestine with Salah Hamouri canceled
ABBAS MOMANI / AFP
Many actors in the city of Lyon have asked for the withdrawal of the invitation made to Salah Hammouri, a Franco-Palestinian lawyer, also a field researcher at the Palestinian NGO “Addameer (Conscience) for Prisoner Support and Human Rights”, here the November 8, 2021 during a press conference.
LYON – Under pressure, the environmentalist mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet, decided to cancel this Monday, January 30, a round table which was to be held in the presence of Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri. A decision that the city councilor justified by the need to“ensuring harmony” in his city, in particular in the face of “very strong tensions” caused by this event.
The conference titled “Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, a look at Palestine”, was scheduled for Wednesday, February 1 at the Town Hall. At the heart of the discord? The presence of Salah Hamouri, thatIsrael consider as a “terrorist”, just like the title of this round table, perceived as a ” provocation “ by several local actors.
“I do it in my role as mayor who must ensure civil peace and harmony in the city”therefore argued Gregory Doucet during a press briefing, emphasizing that he regretted not being able “serenely guarantee freedom of expression” in a context marked by a new outbreak of violence in Israel. Especially since alone “recognized experts in their field” were invited to this round table. None “official representative of the State of Israel” Where “of the Palestinian Authority” was not invited also recalled the mayor of Lyon.
As a reminder, Salah Hamouri was expelled on December 18 by Israel, after several months of detention. The lawyer is also a field researcher for the Palestinian NGO “Addameer (Conscience) for Prisoner Support and Human Rights”which supports political prisoners held in Israel and Palestinian prisons.
Intimidation and political pressure
Sunday, one of the assistants to the mayor of Lyon, Florence Delaunay, had been forced to leave hastily a ceremony dedicated to the memory of the release of the Auschwitz concentration camp after being booed by the public, noted an AFP correspondent. “There was very strong verbal violence, a form of intimidation (…) and I must do everything to ensure that the violence suffered there is not imported here”in Lyon, also underlined Gregory Doucet on Monday.
Grégory Doucet was represented by his Memory Assistant, Florence Delaunay, who suffered boos and calls… https://t.co/njSGBDXGl9
– Progress Lyon (@leprogreslyon)
Due to “risks of public order disturbances”the Rhône prefecture had also given notice to the town hall to cancel this conference with Salah Hamouri in a letter on Monday morning. BFM TV Lyon specifies that the mayor had 24 hours to react to this letter, before the prefecture issues a prohibition order.
As for the chief rabbi of Lyon, Daniel Dahan, he announced on Friday that he was withdrawing from an interfaith group created in 2002 by the town hall of Lyon to promote the “living well together”claiming not to be able “to give (his) moral guarantee to people who, instead of promoting peace in the city, will on the contrary stir up community tensions”.
Laurent Wauquiez steps up to the plate
And if the Jewish community had been greatly moved by the presence of the Franco-Palestinian lawyer, the LR president of the Auverne-Rhône-Alpes region, Laurent Wauquiez had also expressed his incomprehension regarding this invitation. “I was particularly disturbed by your decision”had notably written the president of the region in a letter addressed to the environmentalist mayor and made public in which he asked for the withdrawal of Salah Hamouri from the list of guests.
Last week, the mayor of Lyon had however defended in the columns of the local newspaper Progress the organization of this « focus on the Palestinian territory “. He also supported his decision to invite the Franco-Palestinian lawyer, who has lived in France since his expulsion from Israel, judged “contrary to law” by Paris. “He is a French citizen who has the right to express himself”he stressed once again on Monday, despite the cancellation of the round table.
“We will continue to work to find the right formulas that will allow us to put the subject of the situation in the Middle East on the table thirty years after the Oslo agreements”said the city councilor of Lyon, while recalling that he was “aligned with France’s position on a two-state solution”.
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