U.S. Religious Figures Offer Abuse Apology on Arab TV

American spiritual leaders from different faiths condemn the prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib in a 30-second advertisement to be broadcast next week on the Arabic television networks Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya.

"The impetus for this ad was from the deep sense of moral regret that we were hearing from people of faith across the country," said Tom Perriello, the co-director of FaithfulAmerica.org — the month-old nonprofit advocacy group that created the ad.

"We believe that the abuses are both sinful and systematic and that the moral damage of this around the world will last a long time," he said.

FaithfulAmerica.org — which has also focused on the human suffering in western Sudan — raised about $36,000 from more than 1,000 donors to produce and broadcast the ad. It is paying $20,000 for 10 slots on the two networks beginning Tuesday.

In the ad, a Presbyterian, a Muslim, a Catholic and a Jew read a statement as written Arabic translations appear.

"A salaam aleikum," the Rev. Donald Shriver, the president of the Union Theological Seminary in New York, begins. "As Americans of faith, we express our deep sorrow at abuses committed in Iraqi prisons. We stand in solidarity with all those in Iraq and everywhere who demand justice and human dignity. We condemn the sinful and systemic abuses committed in our name, and pledge to work to right these wrongs."

The ad continues with Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the founder and president of the American Sufi Muslim Association; Sister Betty Obal, of the Sisters of Loretto; and Rabbi Arthur Waskow, the director of the Shalom Center in Philadelphia.

Mr. Perriello said recent news articles about Justice Department memos discussing the legality of the abuse made the ad's message more salient.

"When the administration is even considering the legality of torture, that seems like a moral regression," Mr. Perriello said, adding, "We don't see this as a matter of legal terms, we see it as a matter of right and wrong."