Bradford imams urge city's Muslims not to join militant groups fighting in Iraq or Syria.

Bradford imams urge city's Muslims not to join militant groups fighting in Iraq or Syria.

Bradford imams urge city's Muslims not to join militant groups fighting in Iraq or Syria.

First published in News

IMAMS from across Bradford have urged British Muslims not to join militant groups fighting in Iraq or Syria.

Nationally, concerns have been raised about home-grown involvement in terrorism, after Britons appeared in a propaganda video for insurgent group Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS).

Now 10 imams and senior figures from the district's Muslim communities have signed an open letter which calls for Muslims not to fall prey to sectarian divisions but to help those affected by conflict "from the UK in a safe and responsible way".

The letter, written to coincide with the holy month of Ramadan, was developed by an imam from Leeds and has so far been signed by more than 100 senior Islamic figures from across the UK.

It says: "As the crisis in Syria and Iraq deepens, we the under-signed have come together as a unified voice to urge the British Muslim communities not to fall prey to any form of sectarian divisions or social discord.

"Ramadan, the month of mercy, teaches us the value of unity and perseverance and we urge the British Muslim communities to continue the generous and tireless efforts to support all of those affected by the crisis in Syria and unfolding events in Iraq, but to do so from the UK in a safe and responsible way."

Among those who signed the letter was Imam Rafiq Sehgal, the president of the Bradford Council for Mosques.

He said: "We thought it would be a really good message in the month of Ramadan to say it's all about peace and it's not about taking violence into your own hands."

He said before Ramadan started, he asked mosques to tell worshippers not to travel to Iraq or Syria, and also not to donate money to non-registered charities.

He said: "I have spoken personally to the younger generation. A lot of them have no intention of going, but we have spoken to a few who said they would be willing to go on humanitarian grounds.

"I said that was not a good idea, that there were other ways of helping."

Other signatories include: Imam Shaikh Sajid Mahmood, of the Aminah Trust, Bradford, Imam Yaseen Mohammed, Shah Fazal Karim and Amjad Pervez, of Bradford Council for Mosques, Imam Iftikhar Ali and Zulfiqar Ali, of the Jammat Tableegul Islam, Bradford, Ustahd Yahya Birt, of the Interfaith Forum in Ilkley, and Maulana Amir Hussain and Maulana Swaleey Khan, of YEME, in Bradford.

In April, the police also distributed hundreds of leaflets across the district urging people not to travel to Syria to get involved in the conflict.

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