By Russ McQuaid
Indianapolis, IND. (November 16, 2014) -- The murder of an Indiana man by Islamic radicals in the Syrian Desert has dismayed and saddened central Indiana Christians and Muslims alike.
"It just saddens me that people are hiding behind religion, their violence and for them to kill this young man for no reason at all is so troubling," said Rev. Charles Harrison of Barnes United Methodist Church and the Ten Point Coalition. "I know it’s not a depiction of the Islamic faith and it just makes me sad that this was done in the name of religion."
"The Holy Koran says to kill one innocent person you have killed all of humanity so that's why I am saying this makes no sense," said Mohammad Siddeeq who was a spiritual advisor to boxer Mike Tyson who was incarcerated in Indiana 20 years ago on a rape conviction. "They can't lean on Islam because everything they're doing is outside of Islam."
Peter Kassig's grandfather was a Methodist minister. Rev. Harrison studied under him in the 1980s, decades before the grandchild would adopt the name Abdul-Rahman, convert to Islam and dedicate his life to easing the suffering of civilians trapped in the middle of the war between the Syrian government and its own people.
Paula and Ed Kassig made several pleas for their son's life, his mother covering her head on camera in deference to the Islamic faith. They will meet with reporters Monday afternoon at Epworth United Methodist Church on Indianapolis' northeast side.
"He follows in the footsteps of his parents and grandparents who were servants and he kind of saw himself in the same light as a servant a person of faith and a person of peace doing what he could to help other people who were less fortunate," said Harrison.
Siddeeq was stunned and saddened by word of the Butler University student's death.
"They have nothing to do with religion because if they had anything to do with religion that would be the prescription for stopping all of it," he said. "If it had anything to do with Islam, all you had to do is what has been done by many sincere Muslims and that is to call their attention to the fact that this is totally against Islam, totally against the Koran, totally against everything that we believe in, so if they had any semblance of religion in them they could not even embark upon this sick trail, so they are functioning out of their own hate, out of their own anger, out of their own misunderstanding of religion so I can't understand where they're coming from."
Kassig's parents ask that if you would like to make a contribution, to make a donation to the Syrian American Medical Society, which is working to meet the medical needs of Syrians displaced and injured by war.
You can send your contributions to:
3660 STUTZ DRIVE, SUITE 100
CANFIELD, OHIO 44406
Or, you can visit the SAMS foundation website at: www.sams-usa.net.
Several people have issued statements after hearing about the death of Kassig.
President Barack Obama:
"Today we offer our prayers and condolences to the parents and family of Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter. We cannot begin to imagine their anguish at this painful time. Abdul Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity. Like Jim Foley and Steve Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents. While ISIL revels in the slaughter of innocents, including Muslims, and is bent only on sowing death and destruction, Abdul-Rahman was a humanitarian who worked to save the lives of Syrians injured and dispossessed by the Syrian conflict. While ISIL exploits the tragedy in Syria to advance their own selfish aims, Abdul-Rahman was so moved by the anguish and suffering of Syrian civilians that he traveled to Lebanon to work in a hospital treating refugees. Later, he established an aid group, SERA, to provide assistance to Syrian refugees and displaced persons in Lebanon and Syria. These were the selfless acts of an individual who cared deeply about the plight of the Syrian people.
ISIL's actions represent no faith, least of all the Muslim faith which Abdul-Rahman adopted as his own. Today we grieve together, yet we also recall that the indomitable spirit of goodness and perseverance that burned so brightly in Abdul-Rahman's Kassig, and which binds humanity together, ultimately is the light that will prevail over the darkness of ISIL".
“Abdul-Rahman Kassig was one of us and he was the best of us. He was a lifelong Hoosier who was admired by all as a loving son, a dedicated student, an Army Ranger, and a compassionate humanitarian who risked his life to render medical aid to refugees in Syria and Lebanon. Karen and I offer our deepest condolences and prayers for this courageous young man, his loving family and friends during this time of heartbreak and loss. Indiana will never forget the service, compassion and sacrifice of Abdul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig.”
Senator Dan Coats:
“Today, all Hoosiers are appalled by the tragic murder of Peter Kassig, and we mourn with his family and loved ones. Peter heroically served his country in uniform, and we celebrate this Hoosier’s life of sacrifice and benevolent service to others. It is truly a tragedy that a man who sought to help those in need had his life cut short by savage barbarians who terrorize the innocent.
“The unspeakable depravities ISIS continues to commit are a blatant distortion of the Muslim faith and a cancer on the civilized world. Defeating this so-called caliphate will be a long and protracted effort that requires a resolute commitment from the United States. We must not let this momentary triumph of evil ultimately prevail.”
Senator Joe Donnelly:
My family and I are heartbroken for Paula and Ed Kassig. As a parent, I can think of no greater tragedy than losing a child. Abdul-Rahman (Peter) dedicated himself to providing medical assistance to Syrian refugees, and he will be remembered as someone who made extraordinary sacrifices to assist others in need. We are incredibly proud of Abdul-Rahman’s humanitarian work. I ask all Hoosiers to join me and my family as we continue to pray for the Kassig family and keep them in our thoughts as they mourn the loss of their son.”
"The world and Indianapolis today lost a man of peace at the hands of fanatics. Abdul-Rahman Kassig found his life calling bringing peace and comfort to his fellow Muslims in Syria. The thoughts and prayers of the civilized world go with Abdul-Rahman, his friends and family in Indianapolis, and those who are fighting terrorism around the world."
Governor Pence has also called for all flags to be at half-staff on Monday in honor of Kassig.