Osthoff case could be 'turning point' for Muslims

20th December 2005, Comments 0 comments

20 December 2005, COLOGNE/BERLIN - German aid worker and archaeologist Susanne Osthoff who was released Sunday after being taken hostage in Iraq should continue her work in the Middle East country, the chairman of Germany's Central Council of Muslims, Nadeem Elyas, said Tuesday.

20 December 2005

COLOGNE/BERLIN - German aid worker and archaeologist Susanne Osthoff who was released Sunday after being taken hostage in Iraq should continue her work in the Middle East country, the chairman of Germany's Central Council of Muslims, Nadeem Elyas, said Tuesday.

However, the 43-year-old Osthoff has still not made public her plans for the future nor have officials released any details of her kidnapping and subsequent release or whether a ransom was paid to the hostage talkers.

Osthoff has also not indicated when or whether she intends to return to Germany with German embassy officials saying she wanted to rest at present.

"In any case she should not simply give up her life's work due to an act of terror", Elyas told Cologne's daily Koelner Stadt Anzeigner.

Osthoff, who had converted to Islam and speaks fluent Arabic, was living in Iraq at the time of her kidnapping.

Her kidnappers had initially called on Germany to end its efforts to help rebuild Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. But according to German press reports, Osthoff may have been sold on to another group during the course of her captivity.

"I would understand for the fact that she would want to have a few weeks vacation in Germany so as to regain her energy before starting again in Iraq," said Elyas.

"We should not give up our position because of the pressure of terror," he said.

Elyas went on to call on other German aid workers at present based in Iraq not to leave the country despite the current dangers.

Despite Osthoff's kidnapping, humanitarian help for Iraq was still important and necessary, Elyas told the daily Berliner Zeitung.

"What would happen, if the humanitarian aid workers pulled out because of dangers and crises?" he asked.

The support shown by many German Muslims for Osthoff's release could represent a turning point in the relations with non-Muslims in the country, Elyas told Koelner Stadt Anzeigner.

"We have seen in the Osthoff case that above all Muslims went on the streets to protest against a group  which calls itself Muslim," he said.

"That shows solidarity with German society and the clear rejection of the use of terror in the name of Islam," Elyas said.

DPA

Subject: German news

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