29th August 2013
As Parliament discusses intervention, the Muslim Council of Britain articulates the concern of most British Muslims and indeed the wider public, at the plight of the Syrian people. Our leaders and representatives have an onerous decision to make in the face of ongoing conflict and civil war.
The Muslim Council of Britain is particularly disturbed by the reported chemical attack on civilians near Damascus allegedly committed by the Bashar regime. If true, it only underscores years of brutality by a government that has no hesitation in killing its own people. Sadly this reflects a regional situation where the democratic gains of the Arab Spring are being reversed brutally. We witnessed this only a few weeks ago in Egypt.
We condemn the horrors perpetrated by the Assad regime, and we do not condone acts of indiscriminate violence committed by sections of the opposition.
But we do not think military action will 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.
We are concerned that regime change facilitated by Western military forces will lead to the kind of chaos we witnessed in Iraq in the days after invasion. What started off as a conflict between the brutal dictatorship and democracy activists is now slowly becoming an intractable sectarian conflict. This may be accelerated following Western intervention.
We must urge for a process backed by the United Nations, with all actors around the table. We must pursue all avenues that lead towards a peaceful settlement.
There is legitimate concern that our government will pursue this intervention alone in concert with the United States and a few Western powers. If there are any lessons to be learned from history, it is that the West has a very poor record of intervention in the Middle East. Let us not risk a permanent chaos through knee-jerk reaction.
The Syrian crisis is a challenge of a generation where thousands of lives have already been lost with millions displaced and the problem showing no sign of easing. Many within the Muslim community and indeed amongst our affiliates have been working tirelessly to raise funds and to stand by the suffering people of Syria. The Muslim Council of Britain commends these efforts and encourages all to support the much needed humanitarian work being carried out by a diversity of British relief organisations.[ends]
Notes to Editors:
The Muslim Council of Britain is the UK’s largest Muslim umbrella body with over
500 affiliated national, regional and local organisations, mosques,
charities and schools.