Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes - news from ekklesia

Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
11 Dec 2005

Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes

-11/12/05

As the deadline set by the unidentified captors of four Christian peacemakers passed with no further news last night, the anxious vigil of families, friends and supporters across the world went on ñ and the lobbying to have them set free continued.

The Rev Alan Betteridge, a friend of the abducted Dr Norman Kember, also a member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship, said yesterday: "My worry is, how do the captors extricate themselves from this, without losing face?"

He continued: "Either they lose face if they free them, or they are really out on a limb if they execute them. Somebody has to find a way to let them out of this."

However, Mr Betteridge, a retired minister from Coventry, said he was still hopeful "because of the concerted voice from the Muslim world".

Also on Saturday night another kidnap gang put to death an Egyptian man working for the US military in Iraq.

The dead Egyptian, named by news agency MENA as 46-year-old Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Hilali, worked as a translator in Saddam's home town of Tikrit before he was taken captive earlier this week.

Police have said that his body was found near a village north of Tikrit with his identity papers in his pocket. He was the eighth foreigner abducted in Iraq since late November 2005.

One other person, a US security contractor, has been killed, according to the Islamist group which seized him. But its claim in an Internet statement Thursday has yet to be independently verified.

The Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades had said they would kill the four Western anti-war activists captured at a mosque on 26 November unless all Iraqi prisoners were released ñ but Muslim and Islamist groups across the world have been at the forefront of the campaign against any harm being done to them.

The daughter of Tom Fox, one of the Christian Peacemaker Team abductees, appeared on CNN on Saturday, asking his captors to spare him.

"Both my father and I believe that the Iraqi people have legitimate concern regarding the US government's occupation and presence in Iraq," she said. "We believe that these grievances, however, will not be resolved by taking my father's life.î

She continued: "As he and our family have previously stated, my father is not willing to sacrifice his dedication to the Iraqi people for any armed assistance from the US government."

The Iraqi government and the US military says that they have released 238 prisoners from Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, the two main detention centres for some 14,000 guerrilla suspects in Iraq.

It is these detentions which are a widespread source of grievance among the Sunni minority in Iraq. However Sunni clerics and activists are horrified by the threat against the lives of the Christian peace workers, and believe that any harm to them would be a major setback for their cause of ending the occupation.

The Americans have stressed that the release was part of normal operations and not a response to the kidnapping, since it does not want to be seen to be doing deals.

"We will continue to release more and more detainees," said a US military military spokesperson. Hundreds of prisoners are being set free each month, but without public comment.

Two other international assistance workers were abducted recently - a German archaeologist who is a convert to Islam, and a French water treatment engineer.

Alongside a representative of the Muslim Association of Britain, a representative of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Ehab Lotayef, has flown to Baghdad recently in a bid to secure the release of the Christian hostages.

"Those of us who have dealt with the CPT workers know they are very honest, very clean. We know they never had any [proselytising] goals," he told reporters.

"Please let the CPT people come out, let them be free and let them spend the holidays with their families," added Mr Lotayef.

Yesterday, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said the kidnappers had made no contact today. The Foreign Office in London also had no developments to report.

ìThe agony of waiting may have to continueî, a commentator told Ekklesia. ìBut while people continue to speak out there is hope.î

Petition for the release of the four.

[Updated full chronological list of related articles on Ekklesia as of 11 December 2005: Features - Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Christian peacemakers - a lesson to the peace movement (by Mark A. LeVine); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox). Advent hope for Iraq, captives and Limbaugh (Sojourners magazine). News - Hope continues as Iraq captive deadline looms 10/12/05; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace' 09/12/05; UN secretary general calls for release of all Iraqi captives 09/12/05; Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers 08/12/05; Jack Straw says he will talk on Iraq hostages 08/12/05; Abu Qatada pleas for Iraq captives as deadline is extended 08/12/05; Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; Anti-war campaigner flies to Iraq to plead for Christian peacemakers 01/12/05; Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq 01/12/05; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; Anti-war campaigner flies to Iraq to plead for Christian peacemakers 01/12/05; Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq 01/12/05; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]

Lobbying goes on as Iraq hostage deadline passes

-11/12/05

As the deadline set by the unidentified captors of four Christian peacemakers passed with no further news last night, the anxious vigil of families, friends and supporters across the world went on - and the lobbying to have them set free continued.

The Rev Alan Betteridge, a friend of the abducted Dr Norman Kember, also a member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship, said yesterday: "My worry is, how do the captors extricate themselves from this, without losing face?"

He continued: "Either they lose face if they free them, or they are really out on a limb if they execute them. Somebody has to find a way to let them out of this."

However, Mr Betteridge, a retired minister from Coventry, said he was still hopeful "because of the concerted voice from the Muslim world".

Also on Saturday night another kidnap gang put to death an Egyptian man working for the US military in Iraq.

The dead Egyptian, named by news agency MENA as 46-year-old Ibrahim al-Sayyid al-Hilali, worked as a translator in Saddam's home town of Tikrit before he was taken captive earlier this week.

Police have said that his body was found near a village north of Tikrit with his identity papers in his pocket. He was the eighth foreigner abducted in Iraq since late November 2005.

One other person, a US security contractor, has been killed, according to the Islamist group which seized him. But its claim in an Internet statement Thursday has yet to be independently verified.

The Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades had said they would kill the four Western anti-war activists captured at a mosque on 26 November unless all Iraqi prisoners were released - but Muslim and Islamist groups across the world have been at the forefront of the campaign against any harm being done to them.

The daughter of Tom Fox, one of the Christian Peacemaker Team abductees, appeared on CNN on Saturday, asking his captors to spare him.

"Both my father and I believe that the Iraqi people have legitimate concern regarding the US government's occupation and presence in Iraq," she said. "We believe that these grievances, however, will not be resolved by taking my father's life.'

She continued: "As he and our family have previously stated, my father is not willing to sacrifice his dedication to the Iraqi people for any armed assistance from the US government."

The Iraqi government and the US military says that they have released 238 prisoners from Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca, the two main detention centres for some 14,000 guerrilla suspects in Iraq.

It is these detentions which are a widespread source of grievance among the Sunni minority in Iraq. However Sunni clerics and activists are horrified by the threat against the lives of the Christian peace workers, and believe that any harm to them would be a major setback for their cause of ending the occupation.

The Americans have stressed that the release was part of normal operations and not a response to the kidnapping, since it does not want to be seen to be doing deals.

"We will continue to release more and more detainees," said a US military military spokesperson. Hundreds of prisoners are being set free each month, but without public comment.

Two other international assistance workers were abducted recently - a German archaeologist who is a convert to Islam, and a French water treatment engineer.

Alongside a representative of the Muslim Association of Britain, a representative of the Canadian Islamic Congress, Ehab Lotayef, has flown to Baghdad recently in a bid to secure the release of the Christian hostages.

"Those of us who have dealt with the CPT workers know they are very honest, very clean. We know they never had any [proselytising] goals," he told reporters.

"Please let the CPT people come out, let them be free and let them spend the holidays with their families," added Mr Lotayef.

Yesterday, the Iraqi Interior Ministry said the kidnappers had made no contact today. The Foreign Office in London also had no developments to report.

'The agony of waiting may have to continue', a commentator told Ekklesia. 'But while people continue to speak out there is hope.'

Petition for the release of the four.

[Updated full chronological list of related articles on Ekklesia as of 11 December 2005: Features - Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Christian peacemakers - a lesson to the peace movement (by Mark A. LeVine); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox). Advent hope for Iraq, captives and Limbaugh (Sojourners magazine). News - Hope continues as Iraq captive deadline looms 10/12/05; Embattled Hezbollah backs Iraq 'doves of peace' 09/12/05; UN secretary general calls for release of all Iraqi captives 09/12/05; Former Guantanamo Bay detainees call for release of Christian peacemakers 08/12/05; Jack Straw says he will talk on Iraq hostages 08/12/05; Abu Qatada pleas for Iraq captives as deadline is extended 08/12/05; Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; Anti-war campaigner flies to Iraq to plead for Christian peacemakers 01/12/05; Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq 01/12/05; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]Christian Peacemaker Teams full briefing (with links to features and stories on CPT's work); Why are we here? (by CPTer Tom Fox); Christians criticize UK Iraq war budget increase 08/12/05; Christian peacemakers say the work must go on 08/12/05; Last minute appeals made for Christian peacemakers 07/12/05 ; Muslim detainees plead for lives of Christian peacemakers 06/12/05; Faith groups in the US unite to back Iraq captives 06/12/05; French engineer seized in Iraq 05/12/05; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life 04/12/05; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows 04/12/05; Insurgents say they will kill Christian peacemakers 02/12/05; WCC calls for freeing of Christian peace workers 02/12/05; Vigils and messages of support for abducted peace activist 02/12/05; Palestinian bishop seeks mercy for Iraq peace workers 02/12/05; Anti-war campaigner flies to Iraq to plead for Christian peacemakers 01/12/05; Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq 01/12/05; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages 30/11/05; Search goes on for Christian peacemaker kidnapped in Iraq 28/11/05. Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press]

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