15 Oct 2002
The Muslim Council of Britain urges the British government to seriously rethink its policy concerning Iraq. The MCB Central Working Committee met at the offices of its affiliate, the Federation of Muslim Organisations, in Leicester on October 12th and endorsed the findings of a special survey of over 120 Muslim bodies conducted by its Research & Documentation Committee. The survey found that the vast majority of British Muslims were opposed to any military strike against Iraq.
An earlier emergency meeting of MCB affiliates on Saturday 21st September had also discussed the issue of the possible war on Iraq. The meeting was attended by nearly 60 leaders of British Muslim bodies and ulama. They raised widespread concerns that while there was no doubt that the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein was a tragedy for the Iraqi people, the real aim of the United States was to secure access to Iraq’s valuable resources, as the former Cabinet Minister, Mo Mowlam, had recently declared.
The views of British Muslims on Iraq were conveyed to the Foreign Office Minister Mike O’Brien by an MCB delegation during a meeting with him on Monday 7th October 2002. In a free and frank exchange which ensued, the Minister defended the government’s position and insisted that only with the real threat of war could peace be a possibility with Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. The Muslim Council of Britain reaffirmed its opposition to war against Iraq stating that a pre-emptive strike against Iraq and a forceful ‘regime change’ would be illegal and could have catastrophic consequences for international peace and security.
“We have a duty as British citizens to convey our views on this grave matter to our government and place on record the reasons for our opposition to this course of action,” said Iqbal Sacranie, Secretary-General of the MCB. “We are doing so. We hope that the government reciprocates with its responsibility to listen. Not just to Muslims, but to the vast majority of the British people who oppose a war against Iraq”.
The discussions included concerns that United Nations resolutions were not being applied in an equitable manner. “There is widespread unease among British Muslims about the selective implementation of UN resolutions relating to Iraq and the deliberate overlooking of UN resolutions on Palestine and Kashmir. The United States’ doctrine of ‘regime change’ and ‘pre-emptive strike’ is regarded as setting a dangerous precedent and is a sure recipe for creating international disorder,” said Mr Sacranie.
The delegation expressed its dismay over Britain and the United States’ role in impeding the weapons inspections. Given the welcome agreement reached between Iraq and the Chief UN Weapons Inspector Hans Blix, Britain should be facilitating the resumption of inspections. However, the US’ initiatives are being widely interpreted as a deliberate and insincere attempt to impose additional impractical conditions aimed at frustrating Iraq’s compliance and providing the pretext for war.
“The Iraqi people have suffered enough, both from the dictatorial regime of Saddam Hussein and from the crippling economic sanctions. Far from providing a just solution, war will only result in more death and misery for Iraqi civilians,” said Mr Sacranie. The people of Iraq need the urgent removal of the economic sanctions and freedom from external threats so that they can themselves deal with the government of Saddam Hussein, said the MCB delegation.
Iqbal Sacranie advised the British Muslim community to continue to raise their genuine and sincere concerns about Iraq clearly and peacefully at all public levels, especially with their MPs, and urged that they remain vigilant against any agent provocateurs who may try to exploit and misdirect their feelings into ways and channels that may be outside the law.[Ends]
Notes For Editors
Full details of the survey can be found at www.mcb.org.uk