Iraqi Human Rights Group Plans Protest for Christian Captives

Nearly one month after the release of video footage showing the four kidnapped Christian Peacemakers still alive, a local Iraqi human rights group plans to stage a demonstration in Baghdad Friday for the captives to be freed.

Christian Peacemaker Team member Allan Slater from Baghdad said the group holding the protest is "very supportive of what we do," according to The Canadian Press. He declined to identify the group for security reasons.

"They're making the point that we have helped many detainees," said Slater.

Family appeals, prayer vigils and marches worldwide have led up to Friday's protest. Canadians Jim Loney and Harmeet Sooden along with American Tom Fox and Briton Norm Kember were abducted last fall by a group calling itself the Swords of Righteousness Brigades.

Previous recordings released to the Arabic news network Al-Jazeera showed that the kidnappers have threatened to kill their captives unless the United States frees its prisoners in Iraq.

Friday’s protest also comes in the midst of an indignant Muslim world where violent attacks against Western embassies and religious groups erupted over the past few weeks in response to cartoons published and reprinted in some Western media. The caricatures are of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, Islam’s most revered figure, with such depictions as the prophet wearing a time bomb-shaped turban.

Slater said the cartoons have complicated the situation for the hostages.

"It hasn't made it any better for us," he said.

Although CPT members have been asked to stay away from the protest for security reasons, the group continues to do its peacemaking work around Baghdad yet in a more restricted fashion.

"One of the best things we can do for ourselves and for our detained friends is to keep doing our work," said Slater.

Along with work, family, friends and religious leaders have continued to pray since the kidnapping of the four men in November.