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The Algerian Hostage Crisis And Dr. Aafia Siddiqui

30 January 2013

By El-Hajj Mauri' Saalakhan

Assalaamu Alaikum (Greetings of Peace): 

This message is coming to our readers from New Jersey. I begin with a somber announcement. Yesterday I received a [missed] call from my sister-in-Islam, Dr. Asha A. Samad - she also sent me an e-mail with the following message:

Have you heard that Imam Omar abu Namous died this morning after fajr? Yesterday his qutba was about death... Alhamdulillah for long, motivational, exemplary faithful life during difficult times. 

--- Sis. Asha A. Samad 

Sheikh Omar abu Namous was the imam of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York (aka, the 96 Street Mosque) and a good man. It was indeed both fitting and instructive that his last jumuah khutbah (Friday sermon) should be on the topic of death.   

Inna lillahi wa inna ilahi rajioon (from ALLAH we come and to Him we must return). May ALLAH forgive the sins of Sheikh Omar, fortify his family in this time of emotional challenge, and bless him with Paradise. Ameen. 

I have been in New Jersey since Friday. I was privileged to deliver the jumuah khutbah at a large Islamic center in Piscataway - the Muslim Center of Middlesex County (MCMC). The message in the afternoon (which centered on the importance of Muslims in America meeting the challenges which lay ahead with the power of faith), and the evening lecture on the plight of our sister, Dr. Aafia Siddiqui, received a warm response (alhamdullilah). 

This was the third Friday in a roll that we've been able to take our core message on the importance of Muslims doing our best to enjoin the good and forbid the evil to a Muslim center, as part of the special three month drive for Dr. Aafia Siddiqui. Insha'Allah, next Friday we will visit Masjid Bilal in Richmond, Virginia, for the jumuah khutbah and evening lecture.  

With that said, I want to now touch upon another telephone conversation I had during this trip. The evening before last Br. Abdel Hafid, a brother in New York City with Algerian roots, informed me about a number of reports (in the Arabic media overseas) about the hostage crisis which yesterday came to a tragic end. He stated that according to reports, the hostage takers were demanding the release of Dr. Aafia Siddiqui and Sheikh Umar Abdur-Rahman - the blind Egyptian cleric that the U.S. government has had imprisoned under unfortunate conditions, for years now. 

During the conversation he voiced his disagreement with hostage taking, and opined that demands for Aafia's release under such circumstances were not necessarily in her interest; and also, that the demands being made by the hostage takers might make things more difficult for Egyptian President Morsi's efforts to secure the release of Sheikh Omar as well; and I agreed. 

I informed Br. Abdel Hafid about Aafia's courtroom request that was delivered during the offensively unjust sentencing hearing for her in New York City on September 23, 2010. She specifically implored (those who were present, and those who would hear the news of her unjust 86 year sentence later) that there NOT be any violence committed in her name, as a result of the injustice that was being done to her! 

And within days of that request, there was an estimated ONE MILLION people in the streets of Karachi, Pakistan, protesting the U.S. verdict against Aafia Siddiqui; and from what I was told there wasn't one death or serious injury, a truly remarkable occurrence in that part of the world! 

I then informed Br. Abdel Hafid that I would write a short piece of commentary to underscore this fact; and he committed to translating my commentary into Arabic and getting it out to the overseas media. It was my intention to write the commentary early the next day, but unfortunately, things ended as they did. I saw The Washington Post report below, and I said a silent prayer for all of the families affected by this regrettable, man-made tragedy. 

Hostages reportedly killed as Algerian desert standoff ends, By Anthony Faiola and Michael Birnbaum,

Jan 19, 2013 03:05 PM EST - The Washington Post

LONDON Algerian forces launched a final assault Saturday against Islamist militants holding foreign hostages at a desert energy complex, resulting in the deaths of 11 kidnappers and their seven remaining captives, according to Algerian and French news reports...

To read the full report:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/hostages- reportedly-killed-as-algerian-desert-standoff-ends/ 2013/01/19/e08b2002- 6244-11e2-a389-ee565c81c565_story.html\

I found this reader's response on The Washington Post feedback blog (to the aforementioned report) interesting and insightful: 

Anyone who takes a job at one of the oil compounds in africa gets highly paid to work in a place where this could happen at any time. I'm sure priority number one was to stop it before they blew the expensive equipment up. The oil companies operate like feudal war lords in these regions, with their own mercenary armies to deal with local war lords. Money and power to do what they want are their number one priorities. Algeria did the right thing and I don't care to see any of my tax dollars wasted supporting the agendas of those greedy giants and their employees who decide the money is worth the risk. The oil companies are just as unethical and armed as the other armed gangs running around. The oil companies spout free market capitalism as their religion and the local gang spouts islam. Neither are true to the tenants of either. I fail to see where there are any sides to take here. Algeria responded with a typical police action and kept everyone else out, as is their right as a country. 

What now follows is an even more insightful piece of commentary by my sister-in-Islam (and highly respected British investigative journalist), Yvonne Ridley.


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