Deafening silence by leading British Muslims on Syria

Britain is most probably only a few days away from attacking a majority Muslim country yet it seems that leading British Muslims have little or nothing to say about it, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.

As the clock ticks down to military action which will almost certainly lead to an intensification of the Syrian quagmire, not one British Muslim organisation has issued a press release or appeared on national media voicing their opinion.

This is in stark contrast to the huge outcry before the UK attacked Iraq or Afghanistan which saw virtually all British Muslim groups ally with leftist organisations to pressure the government to change course.


As of this afternoon Britain’s largest Muslim organisation – the Muslim Council of Britain – had no official statement on its website. Neither did any other British Muslim organisation.

The only recent statement of sorts on Syria that I could find came from the Muslim Association of Britain. It condemned the Syrian regime for “indiscriminately attacking civilians in the outskirts of Damascus committing a deadly large scale massacre by the use of chemical weapons.”

“The international community has abandoned the Syrian people who – for the past 30 months – have been brutally killed and persecuted for demanding the end of the oppressive Assad regime,” the statement read.

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“The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) calls on all Muslims and non-Muslims – everywhere – individuals, parties and organizations globally to support the Syrian people in their revolution, to hold parades, festivals and sit-ins, in all cities and capitals, in solidarity with the Syrian people, freedom fighters, refugees, and displaced persons, prisoners, the injured, and the families of martyrs and those missing.

“We call on all activists and workers to support the revolution in every field and arena, everywhere; and to pressurize the political establishments to take firm action against the tyrannical Assad regime.”

While most British Muslims may well agree with the sentiments of this statement it sounds like a precursor to the acceptance of military action to me. That is, military action that will be reluctantly justified on the basis that Bashar has to be deposed come what may.


As for the silence from the other British Muslim organisations I can only draw the following conclusions:

  1. They actively support military action against Bashar al Assad.
  2. They reluctantly support military action against Bashar al Assad.
  3. They haven’t got around to writing a press release yet.
  4. They simply don’t care.

So in the absence of concrete information here’s what I think is going on.

I believe British Muslims are conflicted over this issue. They hate Bashar al Assad so much and blame him for the death toll in Syria so much that they are willing to countenance anything that will depose his regime.

I believe this is a profound mistake for the following reasons:

  1. It is still unclear who conducted the chemical weapon attack.
  2. Western military action will not solve the problem, it will exacerbate it because Russia and Iran will simply intensify their support for the regime.
  3. There is no such thing as a free lunch. The Western powers will want their price of flesh for conducting military strikes.
  4. If Muslims are serious about opposing imperialism in their societies and standing on their own two feet, they need to put their money where their mouth is and oppose ALL western military interventions no matter what the circumstances.
  5. The long history of western military interventions in the Arab and Muslim world proves that they leave behind a legacy of division, chaos and dependency.

For the reasons stated above I believe it is incumbent on all British Muslims to think with their heads and not their hearts, to think of the bigger picture, the longer term and the greater good of Syria itself.

No side can win this war because both have powerful foreign backers that will not contemplate capitulation. So at some point the warring parties in Syria will have to do a political deal involving painful compromises and learn to live with their differences. Both parties have the clout to force that deal because they both have many cards to play.

The alternative to that is a continuation of a war that will further destroy the country and breed hatred, division and dependency for decades. Not to mention the probabilty of a regional and perhaps global confrontation.

So British Muslims should be expending their energies on trying to bring about peace in Syria rather than allying themselves with the worst enemies of the region (The West) in an imperial crusade which will only destroy another Arab nation.


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