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Alan Henning: Hostage release call from mosques

Alan Henning in Syria Image copyright Mohamed Elhaddad/PA
Image caption Alan Henning was seized in Syria in December

Mosques and Muslim groups in the North West have called for the release of hostage and "local hero" Alan Henning.

The Salford taxi driver was captured by Islamic State (IS) militants while delivering aid to Syria in December.

A joint statement was read out during Friday prayers in mosques across the region.

It reads: "We appeal to those who are holding Alan Henning to release him unharmed and return him to his family and community."

It continues: "We ask those holding Alan Henning to appreciate that as a sincere and concerned humanitarian, he left the comforts of his life and travelled to help the people suffering the effects of the Syrian war by delivering humanitarian aid."

IS militants issued a threat to kill Mr Henning, 47, in a video released on 13 September which showed the killing of another British man, David Haines.

On Tuesday, Mr Henning's family revealed they received an audio recording of him pleading for his life.

Image caption The statement was read during Friday prayers at Manchester Central Mosque

The statement from the mosques came as MPs debated a motion on UK military intervention against IS.

Prime Minister David Cameron said it was in the UK's interest to join in bombings in Iraq against IS and there was "no legal barrier" to similar action in Syria.

'Evil crimes'

Mohammed Shafiq, of the Ramadhan Foundation, said the Muslim community in the North West felt strongly about Mr Henning's welfare.

"They wanted to do something to show solidarity and show they abhor IS, their barbarity and their evil crimes," he said.

Imam Muhammad Asim read out the statement at Manchester Central Mosque.

He said: "We want the family to know that Alan Henning is in our thoughts and we pray for his safe and speedy return."

Earlier this week, IS released a second video of UK journalist John Cantlie, who was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and is being held hostage.


Full version of the joint statement

We appeal to those who are holding Alan Henning to release him unharmed and return him to his family and community. We ask those holding Alan Henning to appreciate that as a sincere and concerned humanitarian, he left the comforts of his life and travelled to help the people suffering the effects of the Syrian war by delivering humanitarian aid. We call on those holding Alan Henning to open dialogue with his family to begin the process of his safe return.

We remind all those who are party to the Syrian conflict that whatever their particular military objectives are, to understand that during any armed conflict there are important international and Islamic obligations to protect all civilian buildings including homes, schools and places of worship, and protect all civilians including humanitarian aid workers, journalists, human rights monitors, faith leaders and others civilians who are clearly non-combatants.

We urge those holding Alan Henning to have understanding, compassion and mercy. We call for the release of our local hero.


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