Thousands Sign Onto Letter Pleading For Christian Workers' Release

More than 10,000 people, including several top Muslim leaders in the United States, within 24 hours added their names to a letter calling for the release of the four Christian Peacemaker Team members abducted last week in Iraq.

The letter, issued by U.S. religious leaders, was distributed through an alert by the National Council of Churches USA and – an NCC-sponsored interfaith advocacy ministry.

“We who write you affirm what all the traditions teach that trace their spiritual origin to Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam all teach explicitly that to kill even one human being - even more strongly one who is doing no harm, most especially one who is seeking peace and nurturing human bodies and communities – is to destroy a world,” the letter read.

The Council had issued its alert on Monday, and by Tuesday, approximately 9,000 signed onto the text. The letter was also timed only days ahead of the Dec. 8 deadline set by the captors for the U.S. to release all prisoners in Iraqi detention centers.

According to the NCC, Faithful America will be forwarding the letter with the signatures to Al Jazeera, the leading Arab News agency in hopes that its message will reach those holding the four Christian workers.

The NCC is widely known for its vocal criticism of the Iraq War. Last year, through its FaithfulAmerica initiative, the Council produced a television spot, which aired on Arab television, with religious leaders calling on the U.S. to apologize for the prison abuse scandal in Abu Gharaib.

Monday’s letter was also peppered with negative statements on “the U.S. attack.”

“Like us, they too (members of the CPT) opposed the US attack,” the letter states. “…we who have opposed the US invasion and occupation of Iraq call on all who live in Iraq to seek the release of these people into safety and freedom.”

The letter concludes with a call for an end to the war.

“Once again, we call for a swift end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq and for peaceful action by the entire human community to assist Iraqis to achieve their own self-government,” the letter states. “And we send our loving prayers to those who have become victims of their own loving commitment to peace, justice, and healing.”

Signatories to the letter includes Christian, Jewish, and Muslim leaders, including: Dr. Sayeed Sayyid, Secretary General of the Islamic Society of North America; Sheila Musaji, editor of The American Muslim; Abdul Malik Mujahid, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and Anwar N. Haddam, elected Member of Parliament of Algeria (Dec 1991), now living in Virginia.