Response to US Minister Counselor Press Release of April 8th

09 Apr 2004

To: Mr Dan Sreebny
Minister Counselor for Public Affairs
Embassy of the United States of America
London W1A

Dear Mr Sreebny,

Thank you for your letter released to the press yesterday at 5:36 pm as well as for your deep respect for the work of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Let me assure you of our respect too for the ideals and vision which the United States of America is meant to stand for. Indeed our expression of the pain and concern over the horrific killings in Fallujah was informed by this very high regard for the US.

The earlier murder of four American civilians was not only brutal, it was also against the clear teachings of Islam. However in unleashing such massive and indiscriminate response which has resulted in the deaths of many civilians including small children, the US appears to have been not only in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions governing the obligations of an occupying power, but in attacking a mosque, a place of worship, it was also violating the religious sanctity and deep sensitivities of Muslims the world over. There is now undoubtedly  an urgent need for an independent inquiry into the conduct of the marines and coalition forces which has resulted in the loss of more than 460 civilians including children.

We hold no brief for any Iraqi leader or party and the reference to Muqtada al-Sadr was meant only to underscore the fact that the move against him was politically unwise and likely to be counterproductive. Yet whatever the pros and cons of issuing an arrest warrant against him this late in the day, we understand it has not gone well with Iraqi public opinion as well. Also the Mahdi Army does not happen to be the only such private force, there are a few others too, like the Supreme Council of Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) and the Kurdish parties. With sovereignty due to be transferred on 1st July, we believe all such contentious matters are better left for the Iraqis themselves to deal with.

We  are, however, pleased to note that talks are already under way with Mr al-Sadr and a senior Iraqi Governing Council (IGC) member, Mr Adnan Pachachi. He has pledged that the IGC will ‘respect his honour and his security’.

We wish the whole problem is resolved peacefully and to the full satisfaction of the sovereign Iraqi nation.

Yours sincerely

Iqbal AKM Sacranie OBE
Secretary General
The Muslim Council of Britain

[Ends]

Note for Editors:

The letter from Dan Sreebny to the Muslim Council of Britain can be found online at http://www.usembassy.org.uk/ukpa08apr04.html. See below for the full text

To:

Iqbal Sacranie, OBE
Secretary General, Muslim Council of Britain

Dear Mr. Sacranie,

As someone who deeply respects the work of the Muslim Council of Britain, I must express my strong disappointment concerning the Council’s April 8 press release concerning recent events in Iraq. The release was inaccurate in its description of the situation, and inappropriate in its tone.

Your press release mentioned Muqtada al Sadr, but failed to note that an Iraqi court has issued a warrant for his arrest, for his involvement in a senseless and violent murder of one of Iraq’s most revered clerics. You also failed to note that he has created a private militia dedicated to protecting only him, that has demonstrated through its actions that it has no interest in building a peaceful and democratic Iraq. Your reference to events in Fallujah ignores the Coalition’s effort to target solely those responsible for the brutal murders last week of four Americans and the desecration of their bodies in a manner that violated all ethical tenets.

The United States remains committed to supporting the efforts of the vast majority of Iraqi citizens to achieve a country that is based on democracy and freedom, and that lives in peace with its neighbors and the world community. That is the goal we intend to achieve in partnership with the Iraqi people and partners around the world.

Sincerely yours,

Dan Sreebny
Minister Counselor for Public Affairs
Embassy of the United States of America
24 Grosvenor Square
London W1A 1AE

The Muslim Council of Britain (www.mcb.org.uk) is the UK’s representative Muslim umbrella body with over 400 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques, charities and schools.

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