Prominent U.S. Muslims call for Shalits release

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A group of prominent American Muslims issued a letter urging Hamas to release captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit immediately.

The Aug. 26 letter had 11 signatories, including the two Muslim members of Congress — Reps. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and André Carson (D-Ind.) — as well as Muslim academics and communal figures.

“We believe Hamas’ harsh treatment and five-year detention of Shalit is wrong,” the Muslim leaders wrote in their letter, which was addressed to Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas’ political bureau, who is living in Syria.

Citing the teachings of Muhammad, the letter’s signatories noted that Hamas has complained about the conditions under which Israel holds thousands of Palestinian prisoners and wrote that Muslims are “instructed to ‘repel the evil deed with one that is better.’ ”

“The struggle for Palestinian human rights and self-determination must be based on this ethical and moral code,” the letter said. “Hamas’ inhumane detention of Shalit undermines the Palestinian people’s legitimate aspirations for human rights and a state of their own, existing in peace and security beside Israel.”

Along with the two congressmen, the letter’s signatories include Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, chairman of the Cordoba Initiative, who was involved initially in the controversial effort to build a Muslim community center near ground zero; Sayyid Syeed, national director of the Islamic Society of North America’s Office for Interfaith and Community Alliances; and Akbar Ahmed, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United Kingdom who now teaches at American University. — jta