Britain’s largest Muslim group – the Muslim Council of Britain – has urged MPs not to vote for air strikes against ISIS in Syria.
As the prospect of a parliamentary vote on the issue draws near, the MCB issued a statement saying that UK air strikes would not defeat ISIS and would be just another “recruiting sergeant for the terrorists.”
Following consultation with its affiliates across the country, the Muslim Council of Britain’s Secretary General, Dr Shuja Shafi, said: “There is no doubt that Daesh, or ISIS as it is sometimes known, is an inhuman and evil entity, opposed by the vast majority of Muslims around the world. We will support effective action that aims to destroy this murderous cult. If air strikes against Daesh would prove to do this, it would enjoy widespread support.
“However, most British Muslims believe that air strikes in Syria will not only be ineffective in destroying Daesh, it will also be another recruiting sergeant for the terrorists. As more innocent people die from the air strikes, the appeal of Daesh will strengthen. Daesh craves more Western military intervention in the region to corroborate its hateful narrative. As such, we would urge MPs to learn the lessons of the past, and not to vote for extending air strikes over Syria.
“We agree and support the notion that the first duty of government is to ensure the safety of its citizens. But a convincing case has not been made as to how these air strikes will do this. There is no doubt that Daesh does need to be defeated. And we urge our government to deploy its considerable diplomatic influence to create the political, economic and strategic conditions for Daesh to be rendered impotent.”
Dr Shafi added that the overwhelming priority was resolving Syria’s civil war.
“We must redouble our efforts to ensure the civil war in Syria is resolved, allowing the country to realise its democratic aspirations while remaining true to its pluralistic heritage. When air strikes were proposed two years ago to stop the Assad regime from using chemical weapons against his own people, the MCB was consistent in speaking out against intervention stating that ‘military action will not make it any better for the oppressed people of Syria.
“The Assad regime must go, but it seems this can only happen around a negotiation table and with a guarantee of preserving Syria’s rich diversity.’ The Geneva and now the Vienna process must be bolstered and allowed to end up in a viable, peaceful and democratic Syria.
“In this regard, we urge our government to pressure all states in the region particularly Saudi Arabia, Iran and Turkey to resolve their differences and re-focus their energies against Daesh. This regional coalition should be an immediate priority for the United Nations as well.
“Daesh derives power and arms from the proceeds of oil and donations. There should be stronger financial penalties and sanctions against individuals and countries known to be funding Daesh or indirectly providing arms. Social media accounts, websites and even those TV stations that operate in the Middle East supporting Daesh must be shut down.
“We must remember that whether we bomb Syria or not, Daesh and its ilk will continue to carry on its evil acts wherever it can. We must all come together to keep our cities and streets safe with better intelligence, increased police presence in public places and the whole society being vigilant against terrorism. And we must redouble our efforts to ensure the terrorists do not divide us. We call on our government to engage in partnership with all sections of the British Muslim community to help confront the threat.”