Open Letter to the Stop the War Coalition

Independent antiwar activists and intellectuals

We reprint here a statement by independent antiwar activists and intellectuals protesting the British Stop the War Coalition’s scandalous decision to invite Assad regime apologist Mother Superior Agnes Mariam de la Croix to speak at their “International Anti-War Conference.”  We protest the fact that de la Croix has also been invited to speak in Los Angeles and elsewhere under similarly false pretenses  – Editors.


Open Letter to the Stop the War Coalition

News recently broke that the 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.

Mother 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.


  1. Prof. Gilbert Achcar, SOAS
  2. Assaad al-Achi, Local Coordination Committees in Syria
  3. Rime Allaf, Syrian writer
  4. Omar al-Assil, Syrian Non-Violence Movement
  5. Hussam Ayloush, Chairman, Syrian American Council
  6. Noor Barotchi, Bradford Syria Solidarity
  7. Mark Boothroyd, International Socialist Network
  8. Kat Burdon-Manley, International Socialist Network
  9. Clara Connolly, Human Rights lawyer
  10. Paul Conroy, photojournalist
  11. Donnacha DeLong, National Union of Journalists
  12. Hannah Elsisi, Egyptian Revolutionary Socialist
  13.  Raed Fares, Head of Kafranabel Media Centre
  14. Naomi Foyle, writer and co-ordinator of British Writers in Support of Palestine
  15. Razan Ghazzawi, Syrian blogger and activist
  16. Christine Gilmore,  Leeds Friends of Syria
  17. Golan Haji, poet and translator
  18. Marcus Halaby, staff writer, Workers Power
  19. Sam Charles Hamad, activist
  20. Nebal Istanbouly, Office Manager of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  21. Tehmina Kazi, human rights activist
  22. Ghalia Kabbani, Syrian journalist and writer
  23. Khaled Khalifa, Syrian writer
  24. Malik Little, blogger
  25. Amer Scott Masri, Scotland4Syria
  26. Margaret McAdam, Unite Casa Branch NW567 (pc)
  27. Yassir Munif, sociologist and activist
  28. Tom Mycock, Unite shop steward (pc)
  29. Maryam Namazie, Spokesperson, Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and Fitnah – Movement for Women’s Liberation
  30. Tim Nelson, Unison Shop Steward (pc)
  31. Louis Proyect, Counterpunch contributor
  32. Martin Ralph, VP Liverpool TUC (pc)
  33. Ruth Riegler, co-founder of Radio Free Syria, Syrian International Media Alliance
  34. Mary Rizzo, activist, translator and blogger
  35. Christopher Roche and Dima Albadra, Bath Solidarity
  36. Walid Saffour, Representative of the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces (SOC) in the UK
  37. Gita Sahgal, Centre for Secular Space
  38. David St Vincent, contributing writer and editor, National Geographic Books
  39. Reem Salahi, civil rights lawyer
  40. Salim Salamah, Palestinian blogger
  41. Yassin al-Haj Saleh, Syrian writer
  42. Richard Seymour, author
  43. Bina Shah, author and contributor to the International New York Times
  44. Leila Shrooms, founding member of Tahrir-ICN
  45. Luke Staunton, International Socialist Network
  46. KD Tait, National Secretary, Workers Power
  47. Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner
  48. Paris Thompson, International Socialist Network
  49. Hassan Walid, Anas el-Khani and Abdulwahab Sayyed Omar, British Solidarity for Syria
  50. Robin Yassin-Kassab, author and co-editor of Critical Muslim
  51. Qusai Zakariya, activist from Moadamiyeh, Syria
  52. Nisreen al-Zaraee and Wisam al-Hamoui. Freedom Days
  53. Tasneem al-Zeer, activist
  54. Razan Zeitouneh, human rights lawyer
  55. Ziauddin Sardar, writer, journalist and editor of the Critical Muslim


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