The kidnapping of an American journalist raised in Ann Arbor has Muslims across southeastern Michigan frantically trying whatever they can to secure her release — for her family, her friends and themselves.

Through public appeals, calls to Iraqi officials and strongly worded statements in Arabic, Muslim leaders have denounced the Jan. 7 kidnapping of Jill Carroll in Baghdad, calling the actions of her abductors contrary to Islam.

While members of the Muslim community are praying for Carroll’s safe release on behalf of her friends and family, they are also mindful that if harm comes to the freelance writer for the Boston-based Christian Science Monitor, it could result in a backlash against Muslims.

“We want our voices to be heard. It’s been too long that we’ve allowed the lunatic fringe to speak for us. We’re stepping up and saying, ‘No, that’s not us. That’s not Islam,'” said Dr. Jukakau Tayeb, 53, who lives in Shelby Township.

People anxiously awaiting word of Carroll’s fate could hear today, according to news service reports.

A previously unknown group calling itself the Revenge Brigade apparently kidnapped Carroll, 28, saying that if all Iraqi women in U.S. military custody were not released, Carroll would be killed.

On Thursday, Carroll’s mother, Mary Beth Carroll, who now lives in Illinois, told CNN that her daughter’s kidnappers have “picked the wrong person … if they’re looking for someone who is an enemy of Iraq,” according to the Christian Science Monitor’s Web site.

“I, her father and her sister are appealing directly to her captors to release this young woman who has worked so hard to show the suffering of Iraqis to the world. … Taking vengeance on my innocent daughter who loves Iraq and its people will not create justice,” she told CNN.

Meanwhile, the Islamic community in Michigan — one of the largest in the nation — continued to press for the journalist’s release. In Canton, Muslim leaders issued a public statement in hopes it would somehow reach her abductors. In Southfield, an Islamic charity with close ties to Iraq, called Life for Relief and Development, frantically worked contacts inside the Iraqi government.

Khalil Jassemm, chief executive officer of the Southfield charity, said he is working with Nihad Awad, a representative with the Council on American-Islamic Relations, an Islamic advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., to help Awad make contact with influential Iraqi religious and political leaders. Jassemm is a friend of Iraq’s head of parliament, Hachem Al-Hassani.

A delegation with the council is expected to hold a news conference today in Baghdad, calling for Carroll’s release.


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