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.
The nationwide operation comes just weeks before a conference of foreign ministers in Paris to discuss plight of Christians in Syria and Iraq.
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.
The group of about 40 arrived from Iraqi Kurdistan ahead of a further several hundred Christian refugees expected over the coming weeks.
The family of 11 are relatives of murdered Archbishop Faraj Raho, leader of the Chaldean Catholic church in northern Iraq.
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.
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.