Contact Me By Email

Atlanta, GA Weather from Weather Underground

Saturday, December 03, 2005

BBC NEWS | UK | Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings

BBC NEWS | UK | Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings Iraqi groups condemn kidnappings
Several Sunni Muslim groups have issued a statement condemning the kidnapping of Briton Norman Kember and three other men and called for their release.

Iraq's largest Sunni party, the Iraqi Islamic party, said such kidnappings tarnished the image of Islam.

"The kidnapping will have a grave negative effect among those who call for ending occupation," it added.

The move by around five groups follows talks with envoy Anas Altikriti, said the Muslim Association of Britain.

Mr Altikriti has been sent to Iraq by MAB, Stop the War and CND.

He arrived in Baghdad a day after a video showing the men in captivity was screened.

Al-Jazeera quoted kidnappers saying they would kill the four men unless prisoners in Iraqi and US centres were released by 8 December.

The Iraqi Islamic Party's statement said: "Continuing to hold them will give those who support the war against our country a chance to say that Iraqis don't make a difference between those who support them and those who are against them".

'Tarnish image'

It added: "There are some who are trying to tarnish the clear white image of our religion."

Mr Altikriti has given interviews to the local media and will meet further Sunni groups on Sunday.

He told the BBC as an Iraqi he appreciated the country's situation.

I think back to the Kenneth Bigley saga, the Margaret Hassan saga, and I dread what could happen
Envoy Anas Altikriti

He told the PM programme on Radio 4: "It's a very very dangerous situation, there can be no question about it, but I come as an Iraqi, someone born in Iraq, and therefore, I'm at home. "

"And therefore I'm joining in, riding the same boat that 23, 24 million Iraqis have been in for the past two-and-a-half years and the very same situation that Mr Kember - quite nobly, him and his colleagues - accepted to enter themselves, in order to carry out this noble mission."

He told the BBC he realised his mission was not an easy one.

"I think back to the Kenneth Bigley saga, the Margaret Hassan saga, and I dread what could happen.

"But I also look back to the two French aid workers, the Italian journalists, to the Romanians, and I think 'yes, it could happen'."

Iraq war opponent Mr Kember, 74, of London, was seized in Baghdad last week.

'No agenda'

Mr Altikriti said he had no hidden agenda and it was "too delicate a situation to be partisan".

"So I'm taking extreme care to be seen as who I really am and that is neutral. I don't have a particular interest at this stage of time, apart from getting Mr Kember released," he said.

It's very saddening, but on the other hand it does say that they are alive - and that is good
David Cockburn
Christian Peacemaker Teams

In a BBC interview, the Muslim Association of Britain spokesman Itisham Hibatullah said he was hopeful Mr Altikriti would be able to influence the kidnappers.

"This is the unknown territory we are going into but we have hope once Anas started speaking to the local community leader as he has already done through Al-Jazeera television last night.

"What we are trying to do is influence their minds to say that he's a true friend of Iraq and a peace campaigner," he said.

Mr Kember has been held since Saturday along with three other peace activists - American Tom Fox, 54, and Canadians James Loney, 41, and Harmeet Singh Sooden, 32.

Mr Kember and Mr Fox were shown on the latest video calling for the kidnappers' demands to be met, Al-Jazeera said.

A previously unknown militant group, the Swords of Truth Brigade, claimed the captives were undercover spies working as Christian peace activists.

Mr Kember had been working with a Canadian-based organisation, Christian Peacemaker Teams.

Story from BBC NEWS:

No comments:

Post a Comment