UK envoy remains hopeful on Iraq captives
A Muslim envoy from the UK anti-war movement, who has been in Iraq to help free the four kidnapped Christian Peacemaker Team workers, says that he is still hopeful that the men will eventually be released.
Anas Altikriti travelled to Iraq to meet Sunni Muslim leaders and scholars. He has been appealing for the release of the hostages in meetings, on the media and in confidential meetings with key players.
Mr Altikriti believes that the lack of communication since the second deadline set by the captors, a militant group, has made him 'slightly more hopeful'. But he is keen not to raise unrealistic expectations.
'The likelihood is that, had there been action taken against the hostages, we would have heard about it by now,' he declared on Wednesday.
Mr Altikriti, an associate of the Muslim Association of Britain, said that the hostage-takers could be 'looking for a way out without losing face' - a point urged on negotiators by close friends of the captives.
'The other explanation is that they may be hoping for the next 24 to 48 hours to use the Iraqi elections one way or another,' he said. 'Whether they would use that to release the hostages - or otherwise, God forbid - we can't say,' he added.
CPT has been present in Iraq since October 2002, providing first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation.
They also work in Palestine-Israel, and have supported a Muslim Peacemaker Team.
'Despite how difficult the situation is, the friends of Jim, Harmeet, Tom and Norman are called to see the people holding them as hosts. Hospitality is a deep belief of the Muslim faith,' said William Payne from the CPT office in Toronto, Ontario.
He added: 'We are called to see their humanity, to see them as brothers and not to demonize them.'
[Related Ekklesia 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). What on earth are we waiting for? (Simon Barrow, Advent and Iraq). A culture of Christian citizenship (Pat Gaffney, Pax Christi). Key book: Patricia Gates-Brown (ed.), Getting in the Way: Stories from Christian Peacemaker Teams, Herald Press. Updates: FaithInSociety]