Lot: why the conference of an ex-hostage in Iraq is controversial in Gramat

the essential A head of mission of the controversial NGO SOS Christians d’Irak is invited this Friday to Gramat to talk about his hostage-taking in 2020 in Iraq. But several associations do not see this invitation favorably: for them, the organization in question is favorable to the regime of Bashar al-Assad. They ask the mayor to cancel the meeting.

It is an intervention that is not to everyone’s taste. Today, at 20 hours, the parish of Gramat invited Alexandre Goodarzy to come and testify on the hostage-taking by the Islamists of which he was a victim in Iraq in January 2020, as part of a humanitarian mission. The French Christian is deputy director of operations and development manager at SOS Chrétiens d’Orient. But for the PSLD collective (For a Free and Democratic Syria), there is a problem. “Under the guise of aid to Christians, this French NGO finances organs of the Syrian regime”, explains a spokesperson for the collective. He sent a letter to the mayor to express his “astonishment”: “Our collective aims to alert French opinion to the extremely serious human rights violations committed by the Assad regime in place since 1970 following a coup d’état. This is why we are expressing our deep concern to you when we learn that one of its leaders will be invited to speak from your town of Gramat (…) For these reasons, and for the reputation of your municipality, we suggest you do not allow this conference ”. Irène Labeyrie, a French architect who worked for thirty-seven years in Syria, also sounded the alarm: “This is a far-right political organization, communitarian, which camouflages itself under humanitarian airs, to exploit financially and politically the natural compassionate feeling of our fellow citizens in the face of the disaster in Syria ”.

An“ apolitical ”event

Michel Sylvestre, the mayor of Gramat, assures that he is not aware: “I plead not guilty, it is the presbytery which organizes and not the town hall”. Alexandre Bulea, the priest of Gramat does not see the evil: “This is a presentation on what Eastern Christians live and on their difficulties, he has already intervened in other parishes, it is a man of faith, this event is completely apolitical, otherwise I would not have authorized it ”. Élisabeth Desrumeaux, parishioner and at the origin of this invitation, assures not to know the accusations made by several associations to SOS Christians of Iraq. “Alexandre Goodarzy lived in Syria for several years for humanitarian aid, there is no possible amalgamation on his profile, he will bring today a testimony of faith, I have already heard it during a conference and he did not speak of Bashar Al Assad’s regime in flattering terms, ”she explains. For its part, the SOS Christian Association of Iraq refutes these accusations: “We are an association that works in Syria so some people think that we are allies of the regime, this is not the case.”

Despite criticism, the conference will be held today at 20 Bethany Hall, a parish space.

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