Australian Muslim seeks freedom for Christian Peacemakers - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
January 11, 2006

Australian Muslim seeks freedom for Christian Peacemakers

-11/01/06

One of Australia's leading Muslim leaders, together with a former "human shield" in Iraq, has appeared on Al-Jazeera television in an attempt to persuade the captors of four Christian peace workers in Iraq to let them go.

The message was recorded and released over the weekend by Keysar Trad of theIslamic Friendship Association of Australia and Donna Mulhearn, an anti-war activist who braved US bombs during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mr Trad has been an adviser to Mufti Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly. He is a refugee advocate, an author and an outspoken critic of Western policy in the Middle East.

The Muslim leaders said on the video that taking friends of Iraq like the CPT men hostage is contrary to the tradition of Arab and Islamic chivalry and hospitality.

"It strengthens the case of the enemies of the Iraqi people who are trying to maintain the occupation", he declared.

Added Mr Trad: "I appeal to those holding Harmeet [Singh Sooden], Jim [Loney], Tom [Fox] and Norman [Kember] to release them unharmed forthwith."

His message continued: "Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad does outstanding work on the issue of the human rights of Iraqi detainees and their families.

"CPT has been drawing attention to the abuse of Iraqis held in prison without charge for a long time and has helped the media and other organisations become aware of the situation.

"They have helped so many Iraqi families through the pain of having loved ones go missing. They have been able to find information about their whereabouts and help re-unite families."

Ms Mulhearn was briefly held captive by insurgents in Fallujah last year. She had worked alongside three of four Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers during her time as a humanitarian worker in Baghdad.

She is a close friend of Harmeet, aged 32, a student at Auckland University, New Zealand.

"We want those who have Harmeet, Jim, Tom and Norman to know that they came to help Iraqis," Ms Mulhearn says in her appeal, which has been screened on Al Jazeera during a prime time slot over a 48-hour period.

"We know them well. We have seen them at work; we have witnessed their commitment to Iraq and their desire for the occupation to end.

"I was with Harmeet Sooden in Palestine this time last year. He is a peaceful man committed to helping those who are suffering under occupation.

"Harmeet worked very hard during his time in Palestine to help the Palestinian people in any way he could. He learned a lot about the suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and that's one reason he decided to go to Iraq, to learn more about the life of Iraqis under US occupation.

"He wanted to help Iraqis to reveal the truth about the situation, so that other people around the world would understand their suffering.

"He said he wanted to see the end the US occupation of Iraq, so the Iraqi people could be free.

"We hope that those who are holding the four can release them soon so that they can continue their good work."

[Also on Ekklesia: Updates - FaithInSociety. Reports - Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows; Christians aid Muslim nonviolence initiative in Iraq; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember; Middle East Christians and Muslims renew plea for Iraq captives; Christian peace activists launch in the UK; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian Peacemaker Teams seek meeting with President Bush; Norman Kember's wife in new TV appeal to Iraq captors; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life]

Australian Muslim seeks freedom for Christian Peacemakers

-11/01/06

One of Australia's leading Muslim leaders, together with a former "human shield" in Iraq, has appeared on Al-Jazeera television in an attempt to persuade the captors of four Christian peace workers in Iraq to let them go.

The message was recorded and released over the weekend by Keysar Trad of theIslamic Friendship Association of Australia and Donna Mulhearn, an anti-war activist who braved US bombs during the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Mr Trad has been an adviser to Mufti Sheik Taj el-Din Al Hilaly. He is a refugee advocate, an author and an outspoken critic of Western policy in the Middle East.

The Muslim leaders said on the video that taking friends of Iraq like the CPT men hostage is contrary to the tradition of Arab and Islamic chivalry and hospitality.

"It strengthens the case of the enemies of the Iraqi people who are trying to maintain the occupation", he declared.

Added Mr Trad: "I appeal to those holding Harmeet [Singh Sooden], Jim [Loney], Tom [Fox] and Norman [Kember] to release them unharmed forthwith."

His message continued: "Christian Peacemaker Teams in Baghdad does outstanding work on the issue of the human rights of Iraqi detainees and their families.

"CPT has been drawing attention to the abuse of Iraqis held in prison without charge for a long time and has helped the media and other organisations become aware of the situation.

"They have helped so many Iraqi families through the pain of having loved ones go missing. They have been able to find information about their whereabouts and help re-unite families."

Ms Mulhearn was briefly held captive by insurgents in Fallujah last year. She had worked alongside three of four Christian Peacemaker Teams volunteers during her time as a humanitarian worker in Baghdad.

She is a close friend of Harmeet, aged 32, a student at Auckland University, New Zealand.

"We want those who have Harmeet, Jim, Tom and Norman to know that they came to help Iraqis," Ms Mulhearn says in her appeal, which has been screened on Al Jazeera during a prime time slot over a 48-hour period.

"We know them well. We have seen them at work; we have witnessed their commitment to Iraq and their desire for the occupation to end.

"I was with Harmeet Sooden in Palestine this time last year. He is a peaceful man committed to helping those who are suffering under occupation.

"Harmeet worked very hard during his time in Palestine to help the Palestinian people in any way he could. He learned a lot about the suffering of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation and that's one reason he decided to go to Iraq, to learn more about the life of Iraqis under US occupation.

"He wanted to help Iraqis to reveal the truth about the situation, so that other people around the world would understand their suffering.

"He said he wanted to see the end the US occupation of Iraq, so the Iraqi people could be free.

"We hope that those who are holding the four can release them soon so that they can continue their good work."

[Also on Ekklesia: Updates - FaithInSociety. Reports - Muslims urge release of Christian peacemakers missing in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages grows; Christians aid Muslim nonviolence initiative in Iraq; British Muslims in fresh plea for Norman Kember; Middle East Christians and Muslims renew plea for Iraq captives; Christian peace activists launch in the UK; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian Peacemaker Teams seek meeting with President Bush; Norman Kember's wife in new TV appeal to Iraq captors; Norman Kember's wife pleads for his life]

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