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Happy Birthday Alan . . .

Paul Coletti | 14:30 UK time, Thursday, 17 May 2007

Our colleague Alan Johnston is 45 today and has now spent 66 days in captivity. Brian Keenan's birthday message to Alan (audio) As many of you know, it's traditional to write greetings to folks celebrating an anniversary so who better to mark this occassion than a collection of the world's most famous writers. If the names Rankin, McCall Smith, Coehlo, Byatt and Stoppard mean anything to you then Dear Listener, both you, and Alan, are in for a treat on tonight's WHYS. If however, you cannot wait, you'll find our writers' birthday wishes as audio in this post.

Happy Birthday Alan

"Alan I know you can't hear this but maybe you can hear it in your heart, all of us saying to you happy birthday. Stick in there."
Ian Rankin

"So it's 45 today. Sometimes our birthdays find us in the strangest of places. I know how awfully strange that place can be. Keep the faith. Know you're not alone. Simply believe my friend. And know that even if they take your liberty they can never take your freedom."
Brian Keenan.

Yesterday the online petition for Alan's release passed 90,000 messages - we predict 100,000 by Monday. More messages of support at www.free-alan.com.

If you're marking Alan's birthday in some way then let us know how. Alternatively, if you'd like to know how to get a message to Alan, click here. Be assured, the editors here at the BBC read every message.

Birthday Greetings . . . click to listen . . . Pinter, Safran Foer, Hare, Bryson, Kwesi Johnson and more still to come, click back here to check . . .
>A.S. Byatt
>Paulo Coehlo
>Michael Frayn
>Charles Glass
>Brian Keenan
>Alexander McCall-Smith
>Philip Pullman
>Ian Rankin
>Tom Stoppard

>Monica Ali
>John Banville
>Bill Bryson
>Wendy Cope
>Frederick Forsyth
>Johnathon Frantzen
>Johnathon Safran Foer
>Gamal Al Ghitani
>David Hare
>Harold Pinter

Are some lives worth more than others? Prince Harry has been told he cannot go to Iraq. This comes a month after General Dannat, the head of the British Army, said he was going to let him go: a right royal U-turn. What does this say about our attitude to war and bloodshed today? Do the enemy understand the propaganda war better than we do? If Harry's life is too valuable then what does that say about attitudes to those currently serving . . . ?

Prince Harry.jpg

The organisers of this website aren't too happy and the famous British Army Rumour Service has had its forum thread on Prince Harry pulled . . . for the time being . . . you can read another forum thread about the pulling of the Harry thread here. WARNING: fruity language and images abound - hey, it is the British Armny after all! The BBC's main debating site, Have Your Say, opened a forum on Prince Harry yesterday and they have over 4,000 comments already.

Ros and WHYS Squad A are safely ensconced in Accra. If there are questions you want to know about Ghana, which recently celebrated its 50th anniversary of independence, then let us know.

Palestinian Territories
Things have deteriorated overnight and rumours abound that President Abbas may declare a state of emergency - but I'm wondering that would make a blind bit of difference? There have been 40 killed in fighting between Fatah and Hamas since Sunday. Is there an end in sight? What's the solution? Here's what some of the Arab press have been saying.

Abd-Al-Bari Atwan writing in the Pan-Arab AL-QUDS AL-ARABI says:

The clashes are a shameful disgrace by any measure.


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