The situation had become too difficult to hold. The mayor of Lyon, Grégory Doucet (Europe Ecologie-Les Verts) finally canceled, Monday, January 30, a round table in the presence of the Franco-Palestinian lawyer Salah Hamouri. This decision was made to “ensuring harmony” in his city facing the “very strong tensions” caused by this event, justified the city councilor.
The conference entitled “Thirty years after the signing of the Oslo Accords, a look at Palestine”, was scheduled for Wednesday 1er February at City Hall. The presence of Salah Hamouri, whom Israel considers a “terrorist”as well as the title of the conference were perceived as a ” provocation “ by several local actors. Salah Hamouri was deported on December 18 by Israel, after several months of detention.
“I do it in my role as mayor who must ensure civil peace and harmony in the city”said Grégory Doucet during a press briefing, stressing that he regretted not being able to “serenely guarantee freedom of expression” in a context marked by an outbreak of violence in Israel.
Risks of public order disturbances
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 a correspondent from Agence France-Presse. “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 on Monday.
Due to “risks of public order disturbances”the Rhône prefecture had given notice to the town hall to cancel the conference with Salah Hamouri in a letter on Monday morning.
The chief rabbi of Lyon, Daniel Dahan, thus announced on Friday that he was withdrawing from an interfaith group created in 2002 by the town hall of Lyon to promote the “living well together”claiming not to be able ” give [sa] moral guarantee to people who, instead of promoting peace in the city, will on the contrary stir up community tensions..
Last week, the mayor of Lyon had defended in the columns of the newspaper Progress the organization of this “focus on the Palestinian territory” and his decision to invite the Franco-Palestinian lawyer, who has lived in France since his expulsion from Israel, judged “contrary to law” by Paris. “He is a French citizen who has the right to express himself”he said on Monday.
“We will continue to work to find the right formulas that will allow us to put the subject of the situation in the Middle East on the table thirty years after the Oslo agreements”said Mr. Doucet, recalling that he was “aligned with France’s position on a two-state solution”.