Muslim leaders warn Iraq war could create radical recruits

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  • Date: Wed, 5 Feb 2003 08:47:54 -0000

Leaders of Britain's 2.5 million Muslims are hoping to mobilise popular
support to prevent a war against Iraq, warning it would simply provide
Islamic extremist organisations with new recruits.

 

Sheikh Zaki Badawi, once the imam of Britain's most prestigious mosque,
the Regent's Park Mosque, said many Muslims would feel a war against
Iraq to be unjust.

 

"It would provide recruits for extremists," he predicted.

 

The Muslim Council of Britain, the largest federation of British Muslim
organisations, also opposes war against Iraq.

 

In a letter to Tony Blair last month, the Council's Secretary-General
Iqbal Sacranie urged the British prime minister to use his "restraining
influence" with US President George W. Bush.

 

"We urge the optimum use of your unique position to avert the
destruction of an important Muslim country, notwithstanding the odious
regime it happens to be caught up with," he wrote.

 

"There is real concern that community relations and interfaith relations
will be affected," Sacranie said. "We are worried, we are concerned."

 

The Muslim Council has been involved in planning anti-war demonstrations
in Britain, including a major one set for February 15. The more militant
Muslim Parliament of Britain also supports the anti-war movement.

 

"We are very close to war. If another resolution is passed, it will be
the result of American pressure and coercion," said its leader Dr
Ghasayuddin Siddiqi.

 

This, he believes, "will mean the end of UN and international legality."
But he voiced his frustration at what many see as an unstoppable march
towards war. "Basically we feel we are hitting a brick wall," Siddiqi
said.

 

Sheikh Zaki Badawi, chairman of the Muslim Law (Shariah) Council, warns
Bush could undermine the authority of the United Nations in the way that
former Italian dictator Benito Mussolini once undermined the League of
Nations.

 

"I think in the Security Council the US can get its way any time," he
said: "When Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (in 1935) he ended the
credibility of the League of Nations. Mr Bush could do the same."

 

However, the Islamic Liberation Party Hizb ut-Tahrir says the UN has no
right to decide the fate of a Muslim country.

 

It favours overturning Muslim regimes considered corrupt and wants
pressure to be put on Arab governments. A party pamphlet proclaims:
"Don't stop the war, except through Islamic politics."

 

"We believe the war will not be justified whether there's a second UN
resolution or not," said its spokesman, Imran Waheed.

 

He defended Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's right to the kind of
weapons the United Nations wants him to relinquish.

 

"There's nothing wrong with a Muslim country possessing weapons of mass
destruction, especially when it is surrounded by hostile forces such as
the United States, Britain and Israel," he insisted.

 

Hizb ut-Tahrir organised a demonstration outside Saudi Arabia's London
embassy on Saturday to demand the closure of US bases on Saudi territory
and an end to oil deliveries to the United States and Britain.

 

But the party does not back the calls for a jihad (holy war) that have
been made by some more radical Islamic circles in Britain.

 

"If an independent Muslim did that, it would be his decision," Waheed
said.

 

C 2003 Financial Times Information 2003. All Rights Reserved. Published
by OneSource Information Services, Inc., February 2003

 

Source: Agence France Presse

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