Muslim envoy to Iraq returns as al-Jazeera publicizes mercy pleas - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
December 14, 2005

Muslim envoy to Iraq returns as al-Jazeera publicizes mercy pleas

-14/12/05

While influential Arabic TV station al-Jazeera says it is still being ìfloodedî by appeals for mercy, a Canadian Muslim envoy sent to Iraq to negotiate the release of two of the four Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) hostages has returned home admitting that he has had little success.

However, Ehab Lotayef of the Canadian Islamic Congress remains hopeful the men will be released, though he told Canadian news agencies that he had not been able to find out anything about their status.

Mr Lotayef was specifically trying to gain the release of Harmeet Sooden and Jim Loney. But he says that he, like others, was unable able to get in touch with the hostage-takers directly.

He did, however, speak with ìfour or five influential political and religious leadersî during his 48 hours in Baghdad.

Commentators say that internal networks among the many Iraqi and radical Islamic groups who have called for the release of the four peace workers now constitute the best chance of progress.

Though the silence following the passing of Saturdayís second deadline set by the Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades is agonizing for families and friends, security experts claim that it is likely to be good news on balance.

Meanwhile, Arabic TV station al-Jazeera, which has been pivotal in many kidnapping cases, confirms that it has been ìinundated with emails and phone calls urging the release of the hostages, adding to the chorus of appeals from prominent Muslim leaders and organizations backed by relatives, friends and well-wishers.î

People of all faiths and none are being asked by supporters of the CPT abductees to maintain vigils, petitions and prayers on their behalf.

In further developments, the sister of a German aid worker kidnapped last month in Iraq has appealed for her compatriots to demonstrate for her release in a signal of solidarity, reports Reuters.

Anja Osthoff, said she had no word on the fate of her sister, Susanne Osthoff, who disappeared on 25 November in northern Iraq along with her Iraqi driver.

Osthoff, a Muslim convert, and her driver were shown in a videotape blindfolded and sitting on a floor, with militants ñ one armed with a rocket-propelled grenade ñ standing beside them.

The captors threatened to kill the hostage unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government. While it opposed the war, Germany has since begun training Iraqi soldiers and police outside the country.

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay, 14/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow's personal weblog]

Muslim envoy to Iraq returns as al-Jazeera publicizes mercy pleas

-14/12/05

While influential Arabic TV station al-Jazeera says it is still being 'flooded' by appeals for mercy, a Canadian Muslim envoy sent to Iraq to negotiate the release of two of the four Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) hostages has returned home admitting that he has had little success.

However, Ehab Lotayef of the Canadian Islamic Congress remains hopeful the men will be released, though he told Canadian news agencies that he had not been able to find out anything about their status.

Mr Lotayef was specifically trying to gain the release of Harmeet Sooden and Jim Loney. But he says that he, like others, was unable able to get in touch with the hostage-takers directly.

He did, however, speak with 'four or five influential political and religious leaders' during his 48 hours in Baghdad.

Commentators say that internal networks among the many Iraqi and radical Islamic groups who have called for the release of the four peace workers now constitute the best chance of progress.

Though the silence following the passing of Saturday's second deadline set by the Swords of Righteousness (Truth) Brigades is agonizing for families and friends, security experts claim that it is likely to be good news on balance.

Meanwhile, Arabic TV station al-Jazeera, which has been pivotal in many kidnapping cases, confirms that it has been 'inundated with emails and phone calls urging the release of the hostages, adding to the chorus of appeals from prominent Muslim leaders and organizations backed by relatives, friends and well-wishers.'

People of all faiths and none are being asked by supporters of the CPT abductees to maintain vigils, petitions and prayers on their behalf.

In further developments, the sister of a German aid worker kidnapped last month in Iraq has appealed for her compatriots to demonstrate for her release in a signal of solidarity, reports Reuters.

Anja Osthoff, said she had no word on the fate of her sister, Susanne Osthoff, who disappeared on 25 November in northern Iraq along with her Iraqi driver.

Osthoff, a Muslim convert, and her driver were shown in a videotape blindfolded and sitting on a floor, with militants - one armed with a rocket-propelled grenade - standing beside them.

The captors threatened to kill the hostage unless Germany stops dealing with the Iraqi government. While it opposed the war, Germany has since begun training Iraqi soldiers and police outside the country.

[A full index of Ekklesia coverage of the Iraq hostage situation and CPT can be found at the foot of this news story: Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay, 14/12/05. Further updates on Ekklesia co-director Simon Barrow's personal weblog]

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