Faiths United to Mourn the Death of British Hostage

''As leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities in Liverpool we pray that these tragic events will not further divide Christians and Muslims worldwide…''
( [email protected] ) Oct 11, 2004 10:45 PM EDT

LONDON - After weeks of pleading and struggling, the British hostage Kenneth Bigley was tragically killed by his captors. Churches throughout Britain have expressed their condolences towards Bigley’s family who have suffered deep agony over the past weeks in the face of Bigley's fate.

The murder of Kenneth Bigley has been associated with the Islamic extremist militant group which has been accused of killing at least 28 foreign hostages in Iraq.

Under the gloom of the heart-breaking tragedy, Muslims and Christians in Bigley’s hometown are motivated to take first step towards reconciliation between the two religions.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev James Jones, speaking for the church leaders of Liverpool, and Akbar Ali, a Muslim leader from Liverpool, have issued a joint statement regarding the death of Kenneth Bigley in Iraq.

The statement expresses a warm concern to the victim’s family, “We are very sad to hear the news about Kenneth Bigley and our hearts go out to his family and friends at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

“As leaders of the Christian and Muslim communities in Liverpool we pray that these tragic events will not further divide Christians and Muslims worldwide, but that there will be renewed efforts at furthering understanding and reconciliation of our two cultures,” the leaders of the two religions pledged.

In addition, prayers were said for the murdered hostage at church services all over Britain yesterday. In Bigley’s home city of Liverpool, the parish church of St Mary Walton tolled its bells on confirmation of the news of Bigley’s murder, and opened its doors for the signing of a Book of Condolence on Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon.

More than 300 worshippers attended the special church memorial services for Bigley at the city’s catholic cathedral yesterday.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, Patrick Kelly said all faiths were united in solidarity with the Bigley family. Interviewing with BBC Radio 4’s Sunday program, he mentioned the joint statement issued by the leaders of all the faiths and commented, “We walk together.”

Dr. Daud Abdullah of the Muslim Council of Britain was “horrified” at the kidnappers' use of Islam as a justification for the murder of Bigley, who was described as a prisoner of war in his opinion.

“The killing of a prisoner of war is not allowed in Islam,” he clarified the teaching of Islamic faith.

It has been emphasized throughout negotiations with the extremists that British hostage, Ken Bigley, 62, was an engineer helping to rebuild Iraq, and it was well known that he had nothing to do with any military operations in the region.

Bigley and two other US colleagues were taken hostage in farmland near the town of Latifiya, south-west of Baghdad on September 16 by the Tawhid and Jihad (Unity and Holy War) group, led by Jordanian Islamic militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. The Americans were horrifically beheaded the following week.

The militant terror group called for the coalition to free all female detainees in Abu Ghraib prison of Iraq even though coalition forces denied holding any female prisoners in Iraq. From two released videos, Bigley was pleading tearfully for his life, begging British Prime Minister Tony Blair to meet his tormentors' demands.

Bigley is believed to have been executed on Thursday as a videotape was sent to Abu Dhabi TV showing the scene of last few terrifying moments of Bigley’s life. Reports of a desperate escape attempt were released over the weekend, but the Briton's life came to a heart-breaking end as his tormentors once again showed no mercy.