The town hall of Lyon cancels a conference with the Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri
The environmental mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet, on Monday canceled a round table in the presence of the Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri, to “ensure harmony” in his city in the face of “very strong tensions” aroused by this event.
“I do so in my role as mayor who must ensure civil peace and harmony in the city,” he said during a press briefing, stressing that he regretted not being able to “serenely guarantee freedom of expression” in a context marked in recent days by an outbreak of violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
On Sunday, one of her assistants, Florence Delaunay, had to leave a ceremony dedicated to the memory of the liberation of the Auschwitz 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 so that the violence suffered there is not imported here”, in Lyon, underlined Mr. Doucet Monday.
Because of the “risks of disturbing public order”, the Rhône prefecture sent a formal notice to the town hall at the same time, asking it to cancel the conference entitled “Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, views on Palestine”.
Sunday’s incident, widely reported and commented on on local social networks, marked the culmination of the virulent criticism aroused by the organization of this conference scheduled for Wednesday in the presence of Salah Hamouri.
– “War crime” –
Suspected by Israel of links – which he denies – with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), an organization deemed terrorist by the Jewish State and the European Union, this 37-year-old lawyer has lived in France since his expulsion from Israel.
An expulsion deemed “contrary to law” by Paris and condemned by the UN, which described it as a “war crime”.
His invitation to Lyon, like the title of the round table, was perceived as a “provocation” by several local actors, starting with the chief rabbi of Lyon Daniel Dahan who, in protest, resigned on Friday from a body interconfessional association created in 2002 by the town hall of Lyon to promote “living well together”.
The European Jewish Organization (OJE), which fights against anti-Semitism, for its part seized the administrative court of Lyon to have the conference suspended, in the name of “the neutrality of the public service”. His request was rejected Monday morning by the judge in chambers.
– “Repercussions and dangers” –
The CRIF, which had planned a press conference on Monday afternoon on “the repercussions and dangers resulting from the maintenance of the conference organized by the town hall of Lyon”, announced in a press release that the mobilization “no longer had any place to be” because of the decision of the mayor.
For their part, the supporters of Salah Hamouri denounced by press release the “intimidation (…), the harassment and the defamation of the censors” who “want to condemn him to silence”.
Just last week, Mr. Doucet defended in the columns of Le Progrès his decision to invite the Franco-Palestinian lawyer for this “focus on the Palestinian territory”. “It is a French citizen who has the right to express himself”, he stressed on Monday, recalling that he himself was “aligned with France’s position on a two-state solution”, also supported by the United Nations.
He also announced that he was not giving up on the “project to describe, with all goodwill and people respectful of the democratic framework, the real situation in Israel and Palestine” and planned “future meetings with the general public on this theme” , in a letter sent Monday to various associations.
“This is the whole spirit of our approach, both to address complex geopolitical issues and thorny local situations: to be respectful of republican values (…), to ensure that harmony is maintained, and, never, to be silent in the face of injustices or untruths”, says this letter.