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Published in the 1-15 Sep 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslim organisations appeal for the release of Indians held in Iraq

Syed Shahabuddin, President of the All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat and other leaders of Muslim organisations and important individuals made the following statement on 30 July, 2004: 

"The All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, the Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind, the Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, the All India Muslim Personal Law Board, the Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians and other eminent leaders of the Muslim Community jointly appeal to the militant group which has taken some Indian nationals working for a Kuwaiti company as hostages not to take an irreversible step which would erode the support the Iraqi Resistance enjoys all over the world.

We have taken note of the steps already taken by the Government of India: it has appointed a negotiator; it has prohibited Indians from traveling to Iraq and has decided to stamp Indian passports as ‘not valid for Iraq’; it has also decided to facilitate the return of the Indian nationals working in Iraq. Above all, it has taken a clear stand against sending any forces to Iraq to serve under the Unified Command.

We are convinced that these persons are absolutely innocent and it would be inhuman and un-Islamic to cause any injury to them.

In the name of Islam and in the name of ancient ties between the peoples of Iraq and India, we unitedly call upon the militant group, to release them unconditionally."

In a related development, MG editor Dr Zafarul-Islam Khan, who is India’s most well-known face in the Arab world through his books and writings in the Arab press and regular appearance on important TV channels like Al-jazeera and Al-Arabiya, made a direct appeal in Arabic to the captors on 29 July. The appeal was widely carried by the Arab print and electronic media. Earlier in an interview with the BBC Arabic on 24 July, Dr Khan had tried to minimise the damage caused by the reckless statement of the minister of external affairs, Natwar Singh, that the hostage-takers are criminals who are only after money. 
In his appeal, Dr Khan said that the government and people of India have consistently opposed the American aggression against Iraq, that the Indian parliament unanimously condemned the American invasion of Iraq and the Indian people have taken out dozens of demonstrations in various parts of the country against the American occupation. Moreover, India has consistently refused to send troops to Iraq while it remains under the American occupation. Dr Khan directly appealed to the captors to release the poor hostages who had to gone Iraq, at times against their wishes, with no political agenda but only to earn and feed their families. He warned the captors that any reckless action on their part will only dent the great sympathy Iraqi people and their cause enjoys in the press here and among the vast masses of an important country like India which has been traditionally friendly to Iraq. 

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