With the deadline to meet Iraqi kidnappers’ demands for the release of journalist Jill Carroll less than a week away, students held a candlelight vigil on the Diag last night.
Carroll, an Ann Arbor native, was abducted while reporting for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor on her way to meet a Sunni politician in western Baghdad. The seriousness of the abductors’ demands became evident when Carroll’s interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, was found shot dead at the scene of the abduction.
The Muslim Students’ Association and the University chapter of Amnesty International sponsored the event.
“We have a duty as Muslims to uphold certain values, and one is justice,” said Business School senior Aisha Jukaku, a member of the association.
Jukaku’s fellow members voiced similar thoughts.
“Jill Carroll is caught in a war she has nothing to do with,” Engineering freshman Aysha Ansari said.
More than 50 students attended the vigil.
Carroll’s neighbors expressed their gratitude for the vigil, but said they would not talk to press until the situation is remedied.
Carroll’s kidnappers, a group calling itself the Vengeance Brigade, has demanded the release of all female Iraqis in American custody by Feb. 26. Otherwise, she will be killed.
Carroll’s family issued a public appeal yesterday, one of many efforts pushing for her release since the Jan. 7 abduction.
Some have linked the incident with a broad correlation between Islam and violence, Muslim Students’ Association members said, but they said the linkage is inaccurate because most Muslims are not violent.
“A loud minority will ruin it for a silent majority,” said LSA junior Pauline Lewis, who helped organize the vigil.
Lewis, who is not affiliated with either sponsoring group, said the purpose of the vigil was not to be political or to call for government action.
The American government is clearly facing a difficult decision, she said, as negotiations with terrorists may result in additional abductions. She said if the kidnappers get what they are asking for, the terrorists have an added incentive to commit the same act again.
Carroll is the eighth woman of 37 reporters kidnapped in Iraq since the fighting began in March 2003. Five of the 37 were killed. The others were safely released.
The organizers of the vigil hope the event makes the campus community as well as outside communities aware that “as citizens of the world, no one is deserving of such treatment,” Jukaku said.
In a statement distributed to those in attendance, a couple brief sentences summarized the motives of the vigil: “We hope that she will not become one of thousands of victims of the violence in Iraq. All of us, despite religious, cultural, and political differences, stand together against such heinous crimes against humanity.”