CPJ welcomes calls by leading Muslims for Carroll’s release

New York, January 19, 2006—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes calls by prominent Muslims around the world for the release of U.S. reporter Jill Carroll who faces death at the hands of her Iraqi kidnappers. A brief video aired on Tuesday showing the 28-year-old freelancer in captivity has prompted an outpouring of appeals for her safe return by groups ranging from leading Sunni Arabs in Iraq and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Muslims in the United States.

“The chorus of support for Jill Carroll from across the Muslim world is evidence of her status as an independent journalist who has reported with deep sympathy and courage on the situation confronting all Iraqi citizens,” said CPJ Executive Director Ann Cooper said. “We call on those holding Jill Carroll to heed these calls, recognize her status as a neutral observer, and release her immediately.”

Unidentified gunmen seized Carroll, a freelancer working for The Christian Science Monitor, and her interpreter, Allan Enwiyah, in the Adil neighborhood of western Baghdad on January 7. Enwiyah was shot dead.

In a statement accompanying the 20-second video broadcast by the Arabic-language TV network Al-Jazeera, Carroll’s captors threatened to kill her unless the United States freed all female Iraqi prisoners by Friday. The Associated Press quoted an Iraqi official as saying Iraq had asked U.S. authorities to release six of the eight Iraqi women in military custody, but not as part of a bid to free Carroll. The U.S. military has said eight Iraqi women are in military detention.

Among those calling for Carroll’s release were prominent Sunni groups in Iraq. The Associated Press reported from Baghdad that a spokesman for the Sunni clerical group, the Association of Muslim Scholars, condemned the kidnapping of all journalists “who are a means to convey truth to the people.”

In Cairo the Muslim Brotherhood appealed to insurgents not to attack journalists. “We call upon the brothers in the Iraqi resistance not to target media workers. This contradicts the principles of our religion and doesn’t help the cause of liberating the country,” the Brotherhood, the most powerful Islamist opposition group in the Arab world, said.
An American Muslim advocacy group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said it would travel to Baghdad to hold a press conference on Friday in the hope of reaching Arab television audiences and convincing the kidnappers to release Carroll.

Carroll’s mother, Mary Beth Carroll, pleaded for her release Thursday, saying, “they picked the wrong person” because her daughter “has worked so hard to show the sufferings of Iraqis to the world.” Carroll has worked for various outlets in the region, including The Jordan Times.

Mary Beth Carroll told CNN the video clip on Tuesday gave her hope that her daughter was alive but it had also “shaken us about her fate.”

Armed groups have kidnapped at least 36 journalists in Iraq since April 2004, when insurgents began targeting foreigners for abduction, CPJ research shows. Six have been killed. Read details of those cases.