Eastern Mennonite University

Fall / Winter 2006

Work of Tom Fox Continues

Tom Fox
Tom Fox cleaning debris in Fallujah, Iraq.

The death early this year of Tom Fox, a member of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) in Iraq, hit the EMU community hard, reminding everyone that the nonviolent work taught and advocated at EMU sometimes comes with a price and that its results may not be immediately seen.

Fox’s body was found after he had been held hostage, along with three other CPT members, for three months by unknown kidnappers at an unknown location in Iraq.

Having been Fox’s professor in a 2004 strategic nonviolence class, Lisa Schirch was particularly affected by his death and helped organize a memorial service attended by hundreds in EMU’s Lehman auditorium.

She noted, however, that Fox would not want anyone to become discouraged by his death. Instead, she said, “may we all find a way to renew our own personal efforts to transform trauma, anger, fear, and sadness into something more positive.”

CJP co-director Ruth Zimmerman expressed deep gratitude to EMU’s Muslim alumni and visiting professors who spoke up for the safe release of the four Christian Peacemaker Teams hostages. (In the end, three were released unharmed.)

“Attacking and terrorizing civilians, human rights advocates, relief workers, and peace advocates has never been an Islamic way of resisting occupation or fighting oppression,” stated an op-ed piece by Mohammed Abu-Nimer, an American University faculty member who teaches most summers at EMU’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute.

Khadija Ossoble Ali, a Somali Muslim who earned a masters degree in conflict transformation at EMU in 2001, e-mailed: “He was the hope for a better future for all of us who have been kept hostage by a small minority in the name of religion.

“May we all pray for Tom, for his bravery and courageous work and may god bless him and give us the strength to succeed and transform our despair to a more peaceful coexistence as human beings.”

EMU’s current class of conflict transformation graduate students includes two people associated with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) – Michael Brown, who served CPT in the Middle East on the West Bank, and Thaddeus Hicks, who served in Colombia. The work continues.

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