A major Arab-American organization began a nationwide petition campaign Wednesday urging Saddam Hussein to release all foreign nationals being held hostage in Iraq and Kuwait.
James Abourezk, chairman of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, said he hopes to present the petition personally to the Iraqi president in Baghdad.
Abourezk, a former senator from South Dakota, said the Iraqi Embassy in Washington had not replied to the committee’s request to send a delegation to Baghdad.
He said he does not know whether the petition would help persuade Hussein to release foreign hostages, “but it would be remiss on our part not to try.”
The organization’s Washington headquarters is sending the petition to all 25,000 of its members in 70 nationwide chapters. It hopes to obtain tens of thousands of signatures from Arab-Americans and other American citizens. There are about 2.5 million people of Arab origin in the United States.
The campaign coincides with the group’s efforts to combat what it calls a disturbing increase in anti-Arab discrimination in the United States since the gulf crisis began.