On March 16, 2003, a committed young American activist by the name of Rachel Corrie was murdered in cold blood by an Israeli soldier, while she attempted to non-violently prevent the destruction of a Palestinian family’s home in Rafah (Palestine). Rachel was only 23 years old.
It has come to my attention that another young American woman by the name of [name omitted] was allegedly kidnapped on August 4, 2013, by members of ISIS while engaged in humanitarian relief work in Turkey and Syria. From what I’ve learned of this dedicated young woman, she is cut from the same human cloth as Rachel Corrie. [name omitted] is 26 years old.
It is my understanding that [name omitted] is a human rights activist who has protested against rendition, torture, America’s use of drones, and she begged family and friends to do what they could to urge the US government to intervene in a way that would help the suffering people of Syria (especially the millions of vulnerable refugees).
She was working for [name omitted] and the [name omitted] at the time of her abduction; she had gone into Aleppo to assist a [name ommitted] project at an area hospital. She was abducted outside the hospital, along with her Syrian friend who has since been released.
It is my understanding that [name omitted] was initially given a life sentence in retaliation for the 86 year sentence imposed by the US Government on Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Then, on July 12th, 2014, ISIS informed [name omitted] family that she would be executed in 30 days if: (a) Aafia was not released, or (b) the family did not come up with a ransom of five million euros. This brings me to the purpose of this Open Letter.
It stands to reason that [name omiited] captors are well aware of the successful White House Petition Drive which received global attention during the month of Ramadan. Given the fact that we are now living in an age of high speed, global communication, it is my hope and prayer that this Open Letter (in the 11th hour of [name omitted] captor’s ultimatum) will find its way to their attention as well – and that it will happen quickly!
If I had the chance to address [name omitted] captors I would ask them to consider the following:
1. The Noble Qur’an and Prophetic Sunnah disallow the deliberate killing of civilian non-combatants, especially women and children.
2. Deliberately engaging in actions on the battlefield that violate “the limits” established by The Noble Qur’an and the Prophet’s Sunnah (i.e. Islamic Shariah) removes ALLAH’s barakah (blessings) from the actions taken. As Sheikh ibn Taymeeyah correctly stated: “Civilization is based on justice, and the consequences of oppression are devastating. Therefore it is said ALLAH aids the just State, even if it is non-Muslim; and withholds His help from the oppressive State, even if it is Muslim.”
3. To murder an innocent young woman, who willingly put herself in harm’s way to non-violently assist other human beings (who happen to be Muslim), would make her killers no better than the murderous regime (Zionist Israel) who took the life of Rachel Corrie in 2003 (and countless others since)! Do you really want to be part of that fraternity?
I end with a message from the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, who were shocked and saddened when this tragedy was brought to their attention.
El-Hajj Mauri’ Saalakhan
The Peace Thru Justice Foundation
The Family of Aafia calls for Mercy and Compassion
The Family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui is very distraught at the disturbing report [of the abduction of name omitted]. If the issue is true, we would like to state that our family does not have any connections to such groups or actions. We believe in a struggle that is peaceful and dignified. Associating Aafia's name with acts of violence is against everything we are struggling for.
Cases like Aafia's generate great support and emotional involvements because the suffering she has been put through and continues to endure can't be ignored. A growing and tragic result of Aafia's continued detention is that our appeals to reason and avoidance of violence are being ignored as people lose faith in the efficacy of those means, and we see them expressing their anger in a manner that neither us nor Aafia would endorse.
So, to those who have influence in the fate of Ms. [name omitted] we ask that they opt for a path of mercy and demonstrate by their actions to those who hold Aafia that mercy yields greater success, like the Sunna of our holy prophet. While we deeply appreciate the sincere feelings of those who, like us, wish to see the freedom of our beloved Aafia, we cannot agree with a "by any means necessary" approach to Aafia's freedom. Nor can we accept that someone else's daughter or sister suffer like Aafia is suffering.
Those of us who know and love Aafia can tell you that she would be distraught if she knew that there are people bragging about murder and mayhem and using her name to justify it. She would also be praying for the victims and their families. Aafia is one of too many people around the world who understands the toll that injustice imposes upon all of us.
Let us do our part to put an end to these cycles of pain and bloodshed. Let us show those who have military might that mercy and forgiveness is even more powerful. We pray that both establishments will do their part, and that both innocent women will be set free; not in exchange, not as ransom, but simply because it is the right and honourable thing to do.
The blessed are those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds, and when they are angry even then forgive [Qur'an (42:37)]
But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs. [Qur'an (42:43)]
The Family of Aafia Siddiqui
August 24, 2014
To the Family and Friends of Aafia Siddiqui,
I am writing to you, as a close family friend of one of the hostages currently being held in Syria, to express deep gratitude for the immediate and compassionate response that came from the Siddiqui family and supporters upon learning (two weeks ago) that one of the demands for the release of this loved one was the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. The open letters from the family of Aafia Siddiqui and the president of Peace-Thru-Justice foundation, Mauri Saalakhan, made available to the family, to be used as they deemed best, as well as the offer to help in a broader and international distribution of a plea for the immediate release and safety of the hostages was compassionate and filled with grace.
In my conversation with Mauri Saalakhan, sharing with him the details that we have kept quiet for this past year, his spontaneous response was one of sorrow for the hostages and families, and shock that their captivity and safety had been linked with Dr. Aafia Siddiqui’s ongoing struggle for justice. Mr. Saalakhan’s immediate response was to convey that the hearts of Aafia’s family would be heavy with news that their daughter’s struggle for justice was being used as a means to inflict violence or imprisonment on other innocent people, and that they would send out a plea for the safety and immediate release of the hostages.
In less than 48 hours we received letters from Dr. Aafia’s family and from Mauri Saalakhan, unequivocally conveying the hopes for immediate release of the hostages, unconditioned on a release of Aafia Siddiqui. In the open letter to those holding American hostages, Dr. Aafia’s family wrote, “…we cannot agree with a ‘by any means necessary’ approach to Aafia’s freedom. Nor can we accept that someone else’s daughter or sister suffer like Aafia is suffering.” It is our hope that those are life-saving words to those who have influence over the release of all the hostages being held, particularly those whose release has been conditioned upon the release of Dr. Aafia.
Further, we have appreciated the ongoing prayers for the hostages and the sensitivity that has been shown in allowing the family to remain quiet, withholding from the public the actions taken by Dr. Aafia’s family and supporters on behalf of the hostages, in efforts to abide by the demand of “no media” communicated by those holding the hostages.
However, in recent days, our hearts have also been heavy after hearing news coverage that seemed to link Dr. Aafia to the group holding the American hostages in Syria. The coverage referencing Dr. Siddiqui failed to mention the questions raised by respected international human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, human rights activists and lawyers, including former US Justice and former Attorney General, Ramsey Clark, regarding claims of kidnapping, secret imprisonment, torture and violations of international law and human rights. It is my prayer and hope that the successful petition to the White House with more than 100,000 signatures from around the world will trigger a just and comprehensive review of her Dr. Aafia’s eleven-year struggle for justice and immediate repatriation to Pakistan.
We join with the family of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui in their call issued to those holding our loved one, that all of us do our part to put an end to these cycles of pain and bloodshed, and to show that mercy and forgiveness is more powerful than military might.
We join in the prayer of the Siddiqui family contained in their open letter, that both establishments will do their part, and that both women will be set free; not in exchange, not as ransom, but simply because it is the right and honorable thing to do.
It seems to me, that we both speak from our faith traditions for mercy, compassion, truth and justice. I believe that the greater number of people around the world are not afraid of truth or compassion, but that we all share a strong desire to release prisoners held unjustly, to right wrongs that may have occurred and to do all that we can to end the cycle of violence that threatens our shared humanity and future. In closing, I lift up the words of my friend Mark Johnson, former director of Fellowship of Reconciliation and life-long peace activist spoken at the Imam Al-Khoei Foundation at the close of Ramadan this past July, "This is the fast that is required; a fasting from hunger, from thirst, from homelessness, from prison, from blindness, from hatred and from violence. A fasting from murder and mayhem is the fast we are called to; reconciliation in the feast of love and delight in life and one another."
That we may share in the fast from injustice and violence, and the feast of peace through reconciliation, I am hopeful.
With prayers for the safety and release of our loved ones, and all held hostage,
Rev. Kathleen Day