Christians and Muslims ëdevastatedí by Hassan killing
Canon Andrew White, head of the Iraqi Centre for Dialogue Reconciliation and Peace, has described the devastation and revulsion felt by Muslims and Christians at the news of the killing of aid worker Margaret Hassan in Iraq.
Canon White was a personal friend of Mrs Hassan, a joint Iraqi, British and Irish citizen. Her Iraqi husband has called for the release of her body after Arabic TV stations yesterday showed a video of her unknown captors shooting her in the head.
Mrs Hassan was involved in humanitarian relief work in Iraq for thirty years, latterly for Care International. She opposed Western sanctions because they impacted the poor, not the regime. She also spoke against the US-led invasion as counterproductive.
Talking from Dubai, where he had been negotiating a Fatwah (religious law) calling for her release with Sunni leaders, Canon White said that the spiral of kidnappings, assassinations and insurgency in Iraq now seemed completely out of control.
He said that Mrs Hassan was widely revered throughout the country, and that religious leaders despaired at the lawlessness engulfing their land.
But the situation was nevertheless uniting religious communities in concern, he added.
Elections scheduled for January 2005 held out hope for the restoration of order, declared Canon White. In the meantime the task of humanitarian work was very tough indeed.
Mrs Hassanís murder has been condemned by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, and by the Muslim Council of Britain.
Last Thursday a special church service for Mrs Hassan was held in Kenmare, County Kerry, where her mother was born and her sister Geraldine still lives.