Execution an Affront to Idea of "Muslim Mercy," Says Cardinal

Appeals for Return of Margaret Hassan’s Body to Her Husband

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LONDON, NOV. 17, 2004 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor received with «sadness and horror» the news of the killing of aid worker Margaret Hassan, who was kidnapped Oct. 19 in Baghdad.

In this Thursday’s edition, L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, condemns the «macabre rite» with which terrorists put an end to human lives in Iraq.

Irish-born Margaret Hassan, 59, was married to Tahseen Ali Hassan, and had dual British-Iraqi nationality. She lived in Iraq for 30 years, and for the past 10 years directed solidarity programs of Care International.

After Mrs. Hassan’s abduction, Qatar’s television channel Al-Jazeera broadcast several videos of her, in which she appeared seated, terrified and imploring that she not be killed.

A statement sent to ZENIT today by the Archdiocese of Westminster confirmed that Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor spoke on Tuesday night about «his ‘sadness and horror’ at the execution of the captive aid worker, Margaret Hassan.»

Shortly after he heard the news, the archbishop of Westminster called her sister, Deirdre Manchanda, a parishioner living in the archdiocese.

«I can’t tell you how sad I feel for you and your family,» he told her. «Margaret is a martyr for goodness, truth and generosity. She dedicated her life to others, she will always be remembered for this.»

Describing the killing as «a violation of the most basic value of Muslim mercy,» the cardinal, who is president of the bishops’ conference of England and Wales, called for her body to be returned to her husband.

Last week, the cardinal had appealed to Margaret Hassan’s captors for mercy.

Archbishop Patrick Kelly of Liverpool, vice president of the bishops’ conference, said that the «people of Liverpool will be holding Margaret and all those to whom she is dear in their prayers.»

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