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Muslims Urge Release of Iraq Hostages


CAIRO, December3 , 2005 (IslamOnline.net) ľ Scholars from Iraq and lay people from Palestine have appealed to the kidnappers of five foreign hostages, including peace activists, to spare their lives and free them immediately.

The Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS) urged the kidnappers of German Susanne Osthoff to release her, bearing in mind the positive stance of Germany on the US-led invasion of Iraq in March2003 , the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper reported on Saturday, December3 .

Germany, along with France, strongly opposed the US-led invasion without a UN mandate, sending ties with Washington to all time low.

In a statement, AMS, the highest Sunni religious authority in Iraq, said archeologist Osthoff was married to an Iraqi man, who lives in the northern city of Mosul and hails from the famed Shamar tribe.

Shiite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr, who has helped secure the release of hostages in the past, has also called on Osthoff's kidnappers to set her free.

Sadr said the German woman's kidnapping contradicted "the principles of Islam, which call for respect for women, peace and tolerance".

Muslim leaders in Germany have condemned the abduction, saying that they were ready to try their best to secure the release of the fellow German.

Osthoff, a43 -year-old archaeologist who reverted to Islam 15 years ago, disappeared a week ago.

Earlier this week, her kidnappers said in a videotaped message that they would kill her if Germany did not end all support for the Iraqi government.

Osthoff had been working on excavations in Iraq before UN sanctions forced foreign experts out of the country in the late1980 s.

After the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, she criticized the US military for not preventing widespread looting at archaeological sites. She later volunteered in Iraqi hospitals, tending to the sick.

Peace Activists

In a related development, Palestinians called for releasing four members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), saying they were peace activists who frequently demonstrated against the separation wall Israel was building on the West Bank.

"At least two of the four hostages had staged sit-ins with the Palestinians in protest at the West Bankĺs wall and condemned the US-led occupation of Iraq," Ali Amer, the undersecretary of the Palestinian ministry to counter the separation wall, was quoted as having said by Al-Hayat.

In Ramallah, hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets Friday to protest the abduction and urged the kidnappers to release the hostages immediately.

An Iraqi group threatened Friday in a videotaped obtained by Al-Jazeera to kill American Tom Fox,54 , Briton Norman Kember,74 , Canadians James Loney,41 , and Harmeet Singh Sooden,32 .

The Iraqi group, calling itself "Swords of Truth", has accused the four of spying for foreign forces in Iraq.

Voices for Creative Nonviolence, formerly Voices in the Wilderness and an allied organization of CPT, said that the four are just peace activists who rallied behind the Iraqis in their distress.

"CPT has worked for over three decades, in various parts of the world, as a non-missionary, independent humanitarian aid and violence reduction organization," it said in a statement emailed to IslamOnline.net.

"They have worked in Iraq since October 2002 opposing the US/UN economic sanctions policy, the escalation of the war against the Iraqi people in March2003 , and the continued occupation of Iraq by all Western military forces."

The organization added that CPT was amongst the first groups denouncing the abuse of Iraqi detainees by US military forces in Iraq.

More than 100 foreigners have been seized in Iraq in the past two years. Some kidnappers demanded foreign forces quit Iraq, others sought ransoms and some both. Some hostages were freed but dozens were executed by their kidnappers.

:: Article nr. 18407 sent on 04-dec-2005 02:41 ECT


Link: www.islamonline.org/English/News/2005-12/03/article02.shtml

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