WASHINGTON - An Islamic civil rights group has urged US President Barack Obama to demand the release of a former US lawmaker who was detained by Israel on Thursday while trying to bring humanitarian relief to Palestinians under blockade in the Gaza Strip. Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney and 20 others were held after their relief ship was stopped in international waters by the Israeli navy. The Greek-flagged ship, the Spirit of Humanity, was carrying medical supplies, olive trees and childrens toys. Our government must take action to protect the right of American citizens to provide humanitarian relief to those suffering under an inhumane blockade, said Nihad Awad, national executive director of the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). We must not be complicit in the immoral and unjust siege placed on the people of Gaza. Awad also urged the Obama Administration to assist American citizens trapped in Gaza by the Israeli blockade. He said CAIR has been seeking assistance since January for one Gaza family with American children. Meanwhile, Ms McKinney, an Afro-American who has been promoting the Palestinian cause, and several other activists remained in the Israeli prison after refusing to sign a deportation form that they said is self-incriminating. We were in international waters on a boat delivering humanitarian aid to people in Gaza when the Israeli Navy ships surrounded us and illegally threatened us, dismantled our navigation equipment, boarded and confiscated the ship, McKinney said in a statement, adding that they were immediately taken into custody. Immigration officials in Israel said they did not want to keep us, but we remain imprisoned, she said. State Department and White House officials have not effected our release or taken a strong public stance to condemn the illegal actions of the Israeli Navy of enforcing a blockade of humanitarian assistance to the Palestinians of Gaza, a blockade that has been condemned by President Obama. The Israeli military issued a statement Tuesday saying that the boat had attempted to break a blockade of Gaza and was forced to sail to an Israeli port after ignoring a radio message to stay out of waters around Gaza. While it was the second time in a year that McKinneys relief boat was seized by an Israeli naval ship, its the first time that long-time supporter of Palestinians has been detained.