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Were the Christian hostages really idiots for peace?
by Graeme J. Davidson, 31 March 2006

Peace doesn’t happen by throwing a coin into a wishing well. It takes courageous people to work at it in faith in places where there is no peace.

....Were they heroes or idiots? The controversy started soon after The Swords of Righteousness Brigade kidnapped Christian Peace Team (CPT) members Norman Kember, Tom Fox, James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden, in Baghdad on 26 November.
....After appealing unsuccessfully for the US to release Iraqi prisoners, Tom Fox was shot in the head – CPT says an examination of his body found no evidence of torture – and Coalition forces rescued the remaining three last week.
....There’s certainly plenty of anger and cynicism over the peace activists. In a letter published in The Dominion Post on Tuesday, E Pickering insisted, “Coalition troops in Iraq have far more important work to do than waste time putting their lives at risk locating and rescuing inconsiderate and irresponsible idiots desiring martyrdom, and who have been warned not to travel to that country.”
....Iraq’s certainly a dangerous place. Anyone’s fair game. On the day of the hostage rescue, 33 Iraqis died in bomb attacks. Over 1000 Iraqis are slaughtered each month and there have been about 19,000 US military casualties since the Coalition went in. Forty out of 250 abducted foreigners have been murdered. Ninety journalists have died. Most now report from hotels or are embedded with the military.
....Ironically, in contrast to the peace activists, these journalists are criticised for not getting out of their safety zones and telling it how it really is.
Rosemary McLeod proclaimed in her column in The Dominion Post yesterday, “What a tedious thing it is to go to foreign countries where you are not wanted, in order to impose your beliefs on people who have far more serious things to think about – like survival, for example”.
....Does that mean, then, that we leave the pursuit of a just peace in Iraq in the hands of Islamic extremists, criminals released from prison by the tyrannical Saddam Hussein, suicide bombers, insurgents, the Iraqi forces and the Coalition – there without the backing of the UN and on the false pretext that weapons of mass destruction threatened the US and the UK? At least CPT is trying to do something positive for peace, which is more than can be said for their armchair critics.
....Rosemary McLeod should have done her homework. CPT is not a fundamentalist Christian organisation out to convert Muslims. It has its roots in the peace advocacy and human rights traditions of the Quakers and Mennonites, who believe Jesus discouraged violence and encouraged his followers to pursue peace.
....Nor are CPT volunteers publicity-seekers endangering the lives of others in pursuit of martyrdom.
....CPT has had teams working in hot spots like Israel-Palestine and Colombia for many years. It was involved in peace work within Iraq well before the Coalition forces invaded. In fact, Iraqis, including human rights workers and Iraqi Christians, welcomed the team as a non-violent, independent presence. The ex-hostages certainly weren’t “determined pests”, as Rosemary McLeod suggests.
....Nor were they do-gooder placard-waving simpletons shouting Arabic peace slogans. They lived in a typical Baghdad flat and kept a low profile, identifying with and helping empower their neighbours. The huge number of Muslims, inside and outside Iraq, who joined the plea for their release testifies to their effectiveness.
....The CPT website says its volunteers provide “first-hand, independent reports from the region, working with detainees of both United States and Iraqi forces, and training others in non-violent intervention and human rights documentation”.
....That’s similar to what other international humanitarian and human rights groups do – without the criticism. Where too are letters to the editor lambasting the few intrepid foreign correspondents who investigate Iraqi human rights abuses? They, too, could be captured and endanger the lives of their rescuers? Or are the criticisms only valid when Christians are involved?
....CPT and its volunteers stated repeatedly that in the event of a kidnapping, they did not want any violence used to free them. They said it was unfair to accuse them of expecting others to risk their lives when they had no control over who mounted the rescue.
....Peace doesn’t happen by throwing a coin into a wishing well. It takes courageous people to work at it in faith in places where there is no peace.
....That degree of faith is often lacking in the very people who should know better. In 2003, all but one of the mainstream US churches were against the war. Yet, according to a Gallup poll at that time, those in the pews didn’t share the views of their leaders. Regular churchgoers were the most pro war.
....If they have done nothing else, the selfless heroism of the CPT hostages reminds Christians of their role as peacemakers.
....Were the ex-hostages idiots?
....Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr suffered from similar accusations when they started their peace activism. And look what they achieved.

 


 

 

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