Open Letter to Stop the War Coalition on Agnès Mariam de la Croix

Here’s an open letter to Stop the War Coalition that I signed which (yet again) highlights their support of those who defend oppressive regimes like Iran’s and Syria’s. The open letter was published here. You can read it below.

By the way, here’s a good article by James Bloodworth on this issue saying she is “the equivalent of one of Hitler’s brown priests” and that though she has now pulled out, she would have fitted in so very well…

News recently broke that Stop the War Coalition (StWC) invited Mother Superior Agnès Mariam de la Croix to speak at its November 30 International Anti-War Conference. Fellow guests included MPs Diane Abbott and Jeremy Corbyn and journalists Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill.

Responding to a firestorm of protest, Jones and Scahill vowed to boycott the event if the Syrian-based nun spoke alongside them. Eventually she decided to “withdraw” from the conference and StWC issued a statement without explanation. Nor did it divulge why anyone would object to a Syrian cleric’s participation in an ostensibly pro-peace event.

Here are some reasons why we consider Mother Agnès-Mariam’s inclusion in an anti-war event to be a “red line” for opponents of conflict. Despite contrary claims, she is a partisan to—rather than a neutral observer of—the war in Syria.

syria-12Mother Agnès claimed that the Syrian opposition faked films of Bashar al-Assad’s 21 August 2013 sarin-gas attack on Ghouta in the suburbs of Damascus. In her 50-page dossier on the horrible events of that fateful morning, she wrote that the dead, gassed children documented in those videos “seem mostly sleeping” and “under anaesthesia.”

According to Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, a Jesuit priest exiled by the Assad regime for speaking out against its suppression of peaceful protests and currently a prisoner of al-Qa’ida’s Syrian affiliate, ISIS, Mother Agnes “has been consistent in assuming and spreading the lies of the regime, and promoting it through the power of her religious persona. She knows how to cover up the brutality of the regime”.

Moreover, Syrian Christians for Peace have denounced Mother Agnès for claiming there had never been a single peaceful demonstration in Syria. The also accused her of failing to disburse any of the money she raised in the name of their beleaguered community. They have asked “that she be excommunicated and prevented from speaking in the name of the Order of Carmelites.”

Having a massacre denier and apologist for war criminals like Mother Agnès speak alongside respected journalists such as Jeremy Scahill and Owen Jones is not only an insult to them and their principles. It is also, more insidiously, a means of exploiting their credibility and moral authority to bolster hers, both of which are non-existent.  No journalist should be sharing a platform with Agnès when she stands accused of being complicit in the death of French journalist Gilles Jacquier by his widow and a colleague who accompanied him into Homs during the trip arranged by Mother Agnès in January 2012.

Given that her UK speaking tour is still scheduled to last from the 21st to 30th November we, the undersigned, feel compelled to express our profound and principled objections to those who give a platform to a woman condemned by Syrian pro-peace Christians for greasing the skids of the regime’s war machine.

Signatories: [Read more…]

Human essence of Syria’s revolution

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat who fingers were broken by Asad has an exhibition in London.

He says the “exhibition is about the essence of the revolution – it’s human and creative side, which the media ignores. Wherever I go I try and show this hidden part of my people’s culture.”

He adds: “I am not worried about the future of my country. No revolution is pure. There will be victims and violence and it will take a long time. But after 50 years of injustice, a tsunami of public discontent has been unleashed and it won’t stop until the sun shines on Syria again.”

(Via Mostafa Saber)

No one wants them

Here’s a good report on the opposition to Asad but also the Islamists in Syria. It says:

“The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria detained the media activist Mohammad Nour Matar on Tuesday evening outside its base… after he stood alongside a woman who tried to stage a sit-in,” Matar’s brother Amer told AFP.

In Idlib province in the northwest, whose borders with Turkey have allowed foreign jihadists to join the fighting in numbers, dozens of mainstream rebels were killed in a battle with ISIS last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The fighting broke out after rebels protested against the detention by the jihadists of a 12-year-old boy accused of uttering a blasphemous phrase.

“The chief of the [Free Syrian Army-affiliated] Hamzah Assadullah Brigade and his brother were both killed” in the fighting, the Britain-based watchdog said.

“We haven’t seen many such battles, but it is clear the anger against the Islamic State and other jihadists is on the rise across Syria,” its director Rami Abdel Rahman.

The case echoed that of a 14-year-old boy executed by ISIS fighters in the main northern city of Aleppo who accused him of blasphemy for using a colloquial phrase.

Rahman said mainstream rebels appeared set for a new confrontation with their jihadist rivals in Idlib after ISIS demanded that all other groups surrender their weapons.

Nizar, an activist from the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, said: “Time is running out for all these [jihadist] groups.”

“They use violence and religion to try control us and, although people are afraid to openly express their dissent, no one wants them.”

Yes, indeed, no one wants them…

***

With no end in sight to the worsening situation in Syria, the number of refugees outside the country at almost 2 million and millions more internally displaced, help is urgently needed. Save the Children are doing crucial work, providing food, shelter, protection, education and counselling to children caught up in the violence and instability – but as always are in desperate need of funds to keep going. An activist of the Council of Ex-Muslims, Chris Roche and another are living in tents for a month until 8 August so as to raise money to support Syrian children. Help support them here.

Vanished into thin air

Avaaz reports that in the past 19 months at least 28,000 – 80,000 Syrians – if not more – have vanished into thin air, ‘disappeared’ by the Syrian government forces and militia as a deliberate strategy to terrorise the population at large. No one is safe – from women and men out food shopping to entire families, including 3 year old children…  You can listen to a harrowing report on the situation here.

Imagine your concern when one child goes missing in your neighbourhood or city. Then multiply that concern and keep on multiplying until you live in a society where everyone knows someone – directly or indirectly – who has disappeared…

In the midst of this colossal human tragedy, there are those despicables who are busy defending the Syrian regime (and the Islamic regime of Iran) and trivialising the deaths and disappearances.

To them I say this: stop for a moment. Don’t concern yourself with the Syrian government/Islamic regime of Iran party line or that of the USA or Britain. Don’t even concern yourself with the Free Syrian Army. Instead think of the mothers, fathers, lovers, children vanished into thin air and the innumerable waiting anxiously for news of them – often without any hope of their return.

The people of Syria have to be supported and the death dealers stopped now. Sign Avaaz’s petition to stop the death dealers now.

In the ‘words’ of Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat whose hands were broken earlier this year by Al-Asaad’s thugs: