French Christian NGO's links to pro-Assad Syrian militia

International — Investigation

French Catholic association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) claims to help Christians in Syria without interfering in the conflict that for nine years has been tearing the country apart. But as an investigation for Mediapart has already shown, it has forged close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. And as this second investigation reveals, the NGO - which for several years has been a 'National Defence Partner' of France's Ministry of Armed Forces – also supports pro-Assad militia.

French NGO 'Christians of the Orient' and its ties with the Assad regime

International — Investigation

French association SOS Chrétiens d’Orient (SOS Christians of the Orient) is a self-declared "apolitical" not-for-profit NGO, which sends volunteers and staff across the Middle East with the stated aim of supporting the region’s persecuted Christians, notably in Syria. But, as this investigation for Mediapart reveals, its links with the French far-right and its close relations with bodies and people supporting the Damascus regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad raise disturbing questions about its mission.

French church bells ring Assumption Day tribute to persecuted Christians

International — Link

The nationwide operation comes just weeks before a conference of foreign ministers in Paris to discuss plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq.

A letter to France

France — Opinion

The terrorist attacks in Paris in early January demand an awakening of French society, writes Mediapart editor-in-chief Edwy Plenel. Not one driven by the politics of fear that put the country at war, but one of democratic and social aspirations that demand equality for every member of the population and which, he argues here, is the only solution for eradicating the necrosis of hope that fuels the ‘identity’ conflict blighting France today.

Iraqi Christians reach France after fleeing Islamists

International — Link

The group of about 40 arrived from Iraqi Kurdistan ahead of a further several hundred Christian refugees expected over the coming weeks.

Iraqi Christians begin arriving in France

International — Link

The family of 11 are relatives of murdered Archbishop Faraj Raho, leader of the Chaldean Catholic church in northern Iraq.

France ready to grant asylum for Iraq’s Christians

France — Link

Paris says it is 'outraged' by recent ultimatum for Mosul's Christians to convert to Islam or face death, and will give refuge to those affected.

Priest who taught tolerance in Syria warns of 'horrible' end

International — Interview

Italian Jesuit priest Paolo Dall’Oglio (pictured) has spent more than 30 years in Syria, where he rehabilitated the abandoned Deir Mar Musa monastery situated 80 kilometres north of Damascus. There he created a pluralist, ecumenical community where he preached tolerance and encouraged inter-faith dialogue. His activities brought him into increasing conflict with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, and he was finally expelled from the country this summer. In this in-depth interview with Caroline Donati, he offers a rare insight into the workings and strategies of both the Assad regime and the forces of the opposition movement, the stance of the Christian community and the hopes for future reconciliation, and denounces what he calls “the outrageous” and “disgusting” distance of the West in face of the escalating slaughter of opponents to the Damascus regime.